Plan to charge 30p for public toilets in Brighton and Hove back on the table

Toilets at Peter Pan's playground in Madeira Drive
Toilets at Peter Pan's playground in Madeira Drive

A charge for using public toilets is back on the cards three months after councillors rejected the idea.

In July, Green and Conservative members of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Policy, Resources and Growth Committee voted down proposals to charge people 30p to spend a penny.

But Labour leader Councillor Daniel Yates told the committee at the time that it would not be possible to refurbish any toilets with the money that the council had set aside.

He said: “We do not want to be putting ourselves in a financial black hole. What we’re getting for our money may not be affordable.”

Related stories: Plans to charge 30p for toilets in Brighton and Hove scrapped

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

Upset as barriers and 20p charge for toilets return to Brighton station

The council has budgeted £550,000 in its capital investment programme to refurbish rundown toilets.

However, a further £602,000 is needed from the council’s new public toilets contractor Healthmatic to make it happen.

Cllr Yates asked for a report to sort out the issue ‘in a better way’.

A new report going before the committee on Thursday (October 11) said that the contract to manage the council’s public toilets includes the right to charge at 11 sites.

It said: “Charging is the most effective way of offsetting budget pressures and to generate income and thus improve the service and standards of existing public toilets.

“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 contracts were awarded to Healthmatic after a tendering process in February last year, as the company committed to invest £602,000 in refurbishing the loos.

The funding will be combined to refurbish at least 12 toilets – at Black Rock, Goldstone Villas, Hove Lagoon, the King Alfred, King’s Esplanade, Lower Promenade East, Lower Promenade West, Peter Pan’s Playground, Royal Pavilion Gardens, the Colonnade, West Pier Arches (where charging is already in place) and Western Esplanade.

The investment programme is due to start in the winter of 2018-19 when demand tends to be lower.

And the Royal Pavilion Gardens toilets are highlighted as a priority site.

Work is expected to be completed by March 2020

Conservative councillor Gary Peltzer Dunn spoke against the plans at the July meeting.

He said: “These charges could bring about a decline in the immediate areas. People taken short going in the bushes is unpleasant but is something that could happen.”

Green councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty questioned the level of consultation with people suffering from Crohns, colitus, some cancers and older people.

He said: “They are going to be the ones at the front end of this problem. Radar cards – some have such things. Many of them do not.”

Councillors are advised to approve 30p charges and set in motion the refurbishment project on Thursday when they are due to meet.

The committee starts at 4pm at Hove Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

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

For more of her stories, click here.