There are all sorts of puns we could use to describe Sheffield’s public toilets situation.
On the one hand we get all ‘British’ about any kind of toilet humour but on the other the story is an important one because another vital community service is being cut back.
Just two public automated toilets will be left in Sheffield if new council plans to close another five across the city go ahead.
The city council has announced it is running a consultation on proposals to shut public loos on Angel Street in the city centre, Birley Moor Road in Frecheville, Holme Lane in Hillsborough, Staniforth Road in Darnall and on Devonshire Green near the city centre.
The council says the toilets are only used on average five times a day – and the one on Birley Moor Road was used just 357 times in a year.
It is a dilemma for the council to work out whether it can continue to fund the service given the end of their previous advertising-linked maintenance contract.
However, there should also be a change in thinking.
We don’t need to go into the many reasons why Sheffield city centre needs improving here, but providing facilities for shoppers ought to be on the list of wants when planning the new retail quarter.
Nobody likes skulking into a coffee shop or a department store with no intention of spending anything other than a penny (sorry).
There are plans to create a public toilet facility with full disabled access at Hillsborough precinct as there is said to be a need in that area.
But why not in the city centre too?
There is clearly a need for such a facility because there currently isn’t one.
Whilst appreciating the ‘money is tight’ position that the council consistently takes there also has to be a bit of vision about making the city centre a more pleasant place to shop.
Time and again the same messages keep coming back from shoppers.
More parking, cheaper parking, reliable bus services, toilet and baby changing facilities, longer opening hours.
The customer has been consulted over and over and over again.
Maybe the best plan would be to start not only listening to what people have to say but also to give them what they want.
The other way just doesn’t work.