It could cost 30p to spend a penny if toilet charges go ahead

Peter Pan, Brighton (Photograph: Paul Gillett /Creative Commons Licence)
Peter Pan, Brighton (Photograph: Paul Gillett /Creative Commons Licence)

Spending a penny looks likely to cost 30p at a dozen public toilets across Brighton and Hove, with contactless payment as well as cash.

The move comes as Brighton and Hove City Council aims to save tens of thousands of pounds in running costs while preparing for a £1.15 million refurbishment programme.

A report to councillors points out that people already pay 30p to use the public toilets at the West Pier Arches.

The trial entry fee started in 2014 and has raised almost £25,000 with ‘little or no evidence from users to indicate they are dissatisfied with this charge’.

Now the same charge will be brought in at 11 more toilets if the council’s policy, resources and growth committee agrees the move at a meeting next Thursday (July 12).

Charges could also mean less vandalism and anti-social behaviour, according to the report.

And new toilet cleaning and maintenance contractor Healthmatic has promised to put £602,000 towards the makeover costs, with the council having already committed £550,000.

Money made from charging will be shared between the council and the contractor, with the first £75,000 to go to Healthmatic each year.

The report to councillors said: “With the introduction of a 30p charge, footfall is predicted to drop.

“However, initial financial projections by Healthmatic have indicated that income generation to the council could be as much as £70,678 in the first full year of operation.”

The toilets where the public are expected to pay are: Black Rock; Goldstone Villas; Hove Lagoon; King Alfred; King’s Esplanade; Lower Promenade East; Lower Promenade West; Peter Pan; Royal Pavilion Gardens; The Colonnade in Madeira Drive; West Pier Arches (where charging is already in place); Western Esplanade.

Ten of the 12 are along the seafront, with only the Goldstone Villas and Pavilion Gardens inland.

There are 37 public toilets under council control after several closed in previous years and cut the opening hours at others as it looked for financial savings.

The report to councillors said: “Local authorities have a power and not a duty to provide public toilets.

“The objective of the refurbishment programme is to make it viable for the council to continue providing toilets in the long term, to improve the overall standard and the customer experience within council-owned toilets and to contribute towards budget savings over the next two years and beyond.”

Sarah Booker-Lewis is the Local Democracy Reporter for Brighton & Hove.

For more of her stories, click here.