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Public Conveniences (Hull)

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 29 January 2009

The Petition of residents of Hull and others,

Declares their concern at the plans of Hull City Council to reduce staffing at public toilets in the city; and notes that these changes would have a detrimental effect on the safety and cleanliness of the facilities.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to put pressure on Hull City Council to maintain staffing levels at public toilets in the city.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Ms Diana R. Johnson, Official Report, 3 November 2008; Vol. 482, c. 1P .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is aware that a decision was made by Kingston Upon Hull City Council, as part of its 2007-08 budget decision, to reduce staffing levels at the City’s three attended toilets from two attendants at each to one at each, with a fourth attendant providing cover.

The Secretary of State understands the Petitioners’ concerns about the possible impact on the future safety and cleanliness of the facilities. However, this is a local matter for which the Council has responsibility and the Secretary of State is unable to intervene in the decision. Successive Governments have taken the view that local authorities should be free to carry out their responsibilities with the minimum of interference from central government since they are ultimately answerable to their electors for the discharge of their duties.

The Department for Communities and Local Government published a Strategic Guide on “Improving Public Access to Better Quality Toilets” in March 2008, which highlighted steps that local authority partnerships can take to improve the provision of publicly accessible toilets in their area. Copies were sent to each local authority in the country. The Department published more detailed guidance in November 2008, including step-by-step advice on setting up community toilet schemes, where the public have free access to toilets in participating local shops and businesses.

The action taken by the Department to promote public access to toilets was welcomed and supported by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s report into public toilet provision, published in October 2008.