'It's a human need' - Protest over 'ridiculous' plan to charge for toilets in city centre

-Credit: (Image: Rucsandra Moldoveanu/Nottingham Post)
-Credit: (Image: Rucsandra Moldoveanu/Nottingham Post)

A campaign group is protesting against a charge for public toilets in Nottingham city centre. Notts Save Our Services organised a protest just off Old Market Square, by the Brian Clough statue, in a bid to fight a proposed charge for the Greyhound Street toilets.

The protest took place on Saturday, June 8, at 11am, and organisers have asked passers-by to sign a petition regarding the charge. Jean Thorpe is one of the organisers and says the charge is "ridiculous", especially as it is understood to be card only.

She said: "We don't know what the fee will be yet but the amount of money it will bring in is not worth it. People have been opposing to the charge because there are many groups who rely on these toilets like homeless people, bus or taxi drivers, or people with health conditions.

The toilets on Greyhound Street
People have previously said the charge would be unfair because the toilets "stink" -Credit:Rucsandra Moldoveanu/Nottingham Post

"Homeless people also aren't going to have the money to pay just to go to the toilet - we shouldn't have to pay for that, it's a human need. Council cleaners who start early in the morning also use them because there are no cafes or restaurants open at that time so they have nowhere else to go.

"Then you have the changing place toilets as well - we don't know if those are going to be subject to a charge too. It's disgusting what they're trying to do."

The campaign group added that "going to the toilet is not a luxury" and "everyone should be able to do so for free, in a safe, clean environment". Attendee Margot Bohacz, 49, works for The Meadows Action Group and echoed Ms Thorpe's opinion.

She said: "I do Sunday Supper for homeless people in The Meadows and they use these toilets because they're free. If they come to me for a free meal because they can't afford to buy one then they won't be able to afford paying to go to the toilet either.

"They will also not have a bank card that they can use so that should be taken into consideration. Bus drivers use them a lot as well so you can't expect people to pay to go to the toilet while they're working."

Attendee Margot Bohacz, 49, holding a placard that reads "Save Our Bogs"
Attendee Margot Bohacz, 49, holding a placard that reads "Save Our Bogs" -Credit:Rucsandra Moldoveanu/Nottingham Post

Another attendee, who works in the homelessness support sector and wished to remain anonymous, added: "There are some homeless shelters and outreach places people could go to, but they won't be open late at night or early in the morning so if the charge will be imposed, it doesn't let homeless people with many options and I don't know what their alternatives will be."

This isn't the first time Nottingham City Council has proposed a charge for the Greyhound Street toilets, however. This has happened before in February 2021, when a 30p charge was to be introduced "in line with toilet fees elsewhere".

The fee would have contributed towards the operational cost of the toilets, including staffing to enhance safety and security and regular cleaning.