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Flood of praise for city toilet campaign
OXFORD’S very own toilet tsar has been inundated with support following his appeal for help, including backing from the British Toilet Association.
Last month Oxford Mail features editor Jeremy Smith was asked by Oxford City Council to lend a hand in coming up with ideas for the £420,000 refurbishment of the city’s loos.
He said: “The response has been terrific and we have had quite a lot of people emailing us.
“What has been so rewarding about this venture is the amount of debate it has already sparked, and that is really what it is about – getting people to talk and think about that fact that this city does not just deserve good toilets, but great ones.”
He added that he was still determined to see fresh flowers and books brighten up the facilities.
The initiative has now been given the backing of the British Toilet Association, a group that campaigns for high standards of public toilets.
Gillian Kemp, of the BTA, said: “How refreshing to have someone keen to keep toilets open and make them welcoming.
“About 40 per cent of public toilets have closed down in the past four years and a lot of people are getting together to keep them open.
“Toilets are a basic need and some need them more than others.”
Earlier this year the council set aside £420,000 for the toilet refurbishment and wants to give residents as much say as possible in how the money is spent.
Mr Smith said: “We are currently in discussion with the city council, who have been fantastically enthusiastic and open-minded about this.
“The transformation is not going to happen overnight.
“The timespan is at least 12 months for us to consider what will be the most efficient and most innovative way to make this city’s public toilets something we can all be really proud of.”
Since 2008 three public toilets have closed permanently – in St Giles and Castle Street in the city centre, and Barns Road, Cowley.
In 2010 the city council launched a community toilet scheme which saw some restaurants, shops and bars open their facilities to the public, though some criticised the council for shifting the problem elsewhere.
Geoff Corps, the council’s streetscene manager, said: “We’re initially concentrating on revamping our busiest toilets in Market Street and Gloucester Green and will be putting in modern equipment appropriate to today’s expectations. We also want them to be interesting and something special that might just put a smile on your face.”
- Anyone with ideas on how to make the city’s toilets better can email Jeremy Smith at email@example.com or the council on firstname.lastname@example.org