Society to Council: Open public loos now to prevent anti-social behaviour

The Richmond Society has urged Richmond Council to provide public lavatories in a bid to prevent a repeat of anti-social behaviour witnessed in popular gathering places last year.

Action is needed urgently before the start of finer weather and the visitor season if Richmond is not to be plagued by incidents of urination and defecation on public and private property, including residents’ gardens.

Provision of public lavatories is under review by the Council with the aim of agreeing a plan of action by the end of March. There has been no indication that the Council will accede to residents’ demands for a permanent solution to the dearth of facilities or, as a temporary measure, install portable toilets.

The Society is working with councillors for South Richmond, which attracts most visitors and where most incidents occurred in 2020. Areas affected included the Green, the Riverside and the Hill.

The Society’s Chairman, Barry May, in a message to Council Leader Gareth Roberts, said the absence of facilities raised issues of public health, hygiene, safety and decency.

He asked whether there is an allocation in the current financial year’s budget for provision of public lavatories. If not, what re-allocation is envisaged so that facilities can be put in place in time for this year’s visitor season?

“Given the damage inflicted by lockdown and other consequences of measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic on the local hospitality, leisure and retail sectors it is only natural that the Council would wish to attract visitors. To do so without providing adequate facilities, however, would be reckless,” he wrote.

The Council’s Community Toilet Scheme, in which hospitality, leisure and retail premises are paid a monthly fee to allow members of the public who are not customers to use their facilities, whilst helpful in theory, has failed in practice.

Portable toilets, although considered by some to be an unsightly second-best solution, would be better than no solution. They can be only a temporary stop-gap, however.