CIPHE CEO Warns Closure of Public Toilets is Dehumanising


In Public toilets, Public Health

Following news of confirmed and potential public toilet closures, Kevin Wellman, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), is putting the spotlight on public health.

The warning from the CIPHE comes as part of their role promoting the safety, health and welfare of the public. The concern is that the closures will disproportionately impact people with health issues as well as women and the elderly. A national report has highlighted that at Looe Beach, Devon, depriving people of proper toilet facilities led to beachgoers relieving themselves on the sand, in the sea or on public streets.

Kevin says: “Removing access to public toilets will severely impact the elderly, the homeless, and those travelling with children, menstruating, or who have had children, as well as anyone who has a temporary illness or permanent condition that impacts the frequency or immediacy of their toilet needs. NHS figures presented to the government shows that over 14 million people in the UK have some degree of incontinence so knowingly depriving them of facilities to use is a cruel and dehumanising measure.

“Councils currently have no legal requirement to provide public toilets so when budgets need to be cut, the humble loo is often the first to go. This is fundamentally wrong. Public toilets are not a luxury; they are a basic human necessity for a great many people.”

Budgetary concerns are regularly referenced as a primary reason for the closures. Local Government has faced a 63% reduction in budgets between 2010-11 and 2022-23, according to treasury figures. Now, Kevin is calling on central government to prioritise the social infrastructure, which is deemed ‘vital for public health and inclusion’ by UK parliament.

Kevin concluded: “The closure of toilets is a public health issue that impacts thousands of people and must be remedied. What’s more, having no public toilets could lead to a loss in local revenue as footfall from vulnerable groups drops. Therefore, investing a few pounds to enhance public facilities will go a long way, enabling thousands to ‘spend a penny’ in safety and comfort.  At the CIPHE, we would like to see someone in government champion this crucial cause.”