City council desperate for a PPP as it can't afford to spend a penny
Dublin businesses will be asked to open their facilities to people, even non-customers, because of the lack of public conveniences in the city.
There are no permanent public toilets on the street in Dublin city centre. Portable toilets are provided at just two locations in the city at weekends to cut down on “street urination”. These toilets, available on Camden Street and Westmoreland Street on Friday and Saturday nights, are for men only and cost Dublin City Council about €50,000 a year.
The council said it had no money to provide permanent facilities, but it recognised that a “modern, vibrant capital city” should have public toilets for citizens and tourists. As a stop gap it hopes to persuade businesses to allow the public to use their toilets.
The council studied a scheme operated by Richmond council in London, where almost 100 businesses have agreed to provide toilet access to the public.
Where once they might have had “toilets are for customers only” signs, businesses participating in the Richmond Community Toilet Scheme display a sticker in their windows indicating the toilet facilities on offer. Street signage also indicates the location of the toilets.
The public may use the facilities during the premises’ opening hours and without having to make a purchase. Businesses have the right to refuse entry in “exceptional circumstances”, Dublin council said.
The Dublin City Business Association said it was open to considering such a scheme, but there remained a need for permanent public toilets on the city streets. “We believe the city council has an obligation and a responsibility to put in public toilets, but we recognise the current financial situation, and that the need for toilets is urgent, so there is room for movement from businesses on it,” chief executive Tom Coffey said.
The scheme would have to be strictly voluntary and businesses should be able to decide if they wish to charge for the service, he said.
While he accepted the council had no budget for toilets, Mr Coffey said it should bring pressure to bear on the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) to fund toilets as part of the new cross-city Luas scheme.
“The original toilets were located along the old tram routes. The RPA should pay for toilets as part of the Luas line. The smell of what we might call the absence of a public toilet in some parts of the city is just not acceptable.”
In the 1970s there were more than 60 staffed public toilets in the city, but by the end of the 1990s they had all been shut, largely due to “serious antisocial behaviour”.