"More Loos For Merton" Plea Local Campaigners

Most people don't know where to access a public toilet in the borough

Left to right: John McGeachy Age UK London, Monica Tulloch, More Loos for Merton Campaigner and Julie Johns More Loos for Merton Campaigner

A group of Merton residents are calling on the council to radically improve public toilet provision in the borough and have launched a More Loos for Merton campaign.

The campaigners are preparing a letter to be handed to the Council ahead of a Cabinet meeting later this month in which they will discuss how to respond to recommendations outlined in a Merton Council scrutiny panel report by Merton Park Councillor Stephen Mercer, which was critical of current provision in the borough.  

Since forming at the end of last year and working with Age UK London who run the London Loos campaign, the group has conducted its own toilets audit. This has shown that while there are many customer toilets in cafés and shops, there are very few facilities that the public are able to access freely. 

The More Loos for Merton group say that improving provision is about tackling social isolation, supporting the local economy, and making Merton more welcoming and inclusive for people of all ages, both residents and visitors. 

The campaign is calling for several improvements including an upgrade to the borough’s Community Toilet Scheme (CTS) and better access to toilets in council-run public buildings.

While Merton did have a very small CTS several years ago, the campaigners say this has declined.

More Loos for Merton is asking the council to regenerate the scheme, adding more cafés, shops, and other premises with toilet facilities.  

The group are also asking the council to call on Transport for London to open a toilet at Morden Underground station and are supporting a petition on this issue. Of the 28 terminus stations across the London Underground network, Morden is one of just three that doesn’t have a toilet either at the station or immediately adjacent to the station.   

The report for the scrutiny panel included the findings that: 

  • The existing CTS in Merton had failed. 
  • Of the five premises currently listed on Merton’s website as members of the CTS, two were displaying signs saying, ‘Customers Use Only’. 
  • Nine out of 10 people who responded to the council’s consultation regarded toilet provision in Merton as poor, or very poor. 
  • Few residents could easily identify where their closest available toilet would be whilst out and about. While 22% of respondents were able to identify a toilet in Morden, less than 5% could identify toilets that could be accessed in Wimbledon Village.   

More Loos for Merton campaigner, Julie Johns, who has visited over 30 local toilets across the borough says: “We are really pleased that Merton Council has acknowledged the importance of reviewing the availability of toilets in the borough. The findings and recommendations in the scrutiny report endorse the views of More Loos for Merton and we are encouraged by the positive response so far.”   

“Going forward, we hope the Cabinet will support and implement the recommendations fully and without delay as the current situation locally is dire. We do recognize this is a London-wide problem and it would be great to see other boroughs and the Mayor of London playing their part in giving this issue greater priority.” 

Among the recommendations were:

  • Recognition that public toilets should be an essential part of the council’s public health policy. 
  • The Council should demonstrate its commitment to the Community Toilet Scheme by making facilities in council-run premises that are open to the public as part of the renewed scheme. 
  • The needs of each town centre in the borough should be assessed with a plan drawn up to address shortcomings. 
  • Create clear signage to toilets and better public information to help people find their nearest available toilet. 
  • Useful information for the public such as maps should not be limited to being online-only and hard-copy materials must be available for people that do not use the internet. 

September 11, 2023

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