The public facilities scheme will encourage local authorities to work in partnership with businesses to improve the provision of safe, hygienic and accessible toilet facilities.
Under the new scheme local councils will be funded by the Welsh Assembly Government by up to £18,000 a year to fund local businesses to allow public access to their toilet facilities. The plans could see over 750 businesses across Wales taking part.
The Minister announced the scheme at The Three Horse Shoes Public House in Bridgend.
Dr Gibbons said:
Being able to use clean and accessible public facilities is important to everyone. It is also important that they are accessible to all sections of society, including people with disabilities and families with young children, they are hygienic and located where they are most needed.
Local councils are best placed to play a leading role in ensuring that local people and visitors can access good quality public toilets in their areas. I want all local authorities in Wales to look closely at how they provide public facilities and ensure that they meet the demands now and in the future.
Local businesses such as pubs and filling stations already provide toilets for their customers. This scheme will provide an incentive for businesses to work with local councils to widen access to these facilities.
This scheme should be used by local authorities as one part of their overall strategy for providing public toilet facilities and should not necessarily be seen as an alternative to good-quality local authority owned facilities.
Mike Bone the British Toilet Association Director has commended the new initiative saying that the Welsh Assembly Government is taking the lead within the UK in funding the provision of additional toilets for use by the public.
The majority of closures of public toilets in the last twenty years has been due to the discretionary nature of the service, coupled with the pressure on local authority finances. This initiative provides all Welsh local authorities with the opportunity to review their public facilities strategy whilst increasing the provision of toilets available to the public. It means that they can plan and implement improved provision, which may include replacement of unsuitable facilities with new toilets that meet the needs of all users in the 21st century, without reducing the number of toilets available.
All local authorities in Wales will be invited to participate in the scheme for three years from 1 April 2009.Local authorities will have to monitor the scheme and report annually on how effective it has been.
20 August 2008