Prostate cancer victims’ anger at toilet closures

Public toilets such as those in Bath Street, Portobello, face the axe. Picture: Cate Gillon
Public toilets such as those in Bath Street, Portobello, face the axe. Picture: Cate Gillon
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PROSTATE cancer sufferers have hit out at plans to axe most of the Capital’s public toilets.

The Edinburgh and Lothian Prostate Cancer Support Group (ELPCSG) wants council bosses to reconsider a proposal which could lead to the closure of nearly all toilets outside the city centre in a bid to save £600,000 in annual running costs.

They said men with the illness depend on a well-maintained and extensive network of public conveniences as the urge to urinate can come suddenly and often. And they stressed sufferers often plan their trips through the city based on a clear mental “map” of where toilets can be found.

The concerns come after the News revealed how up to 20 of Edinburgh’s 29 conveniences face the axe as the city seeks to slice nearly £30 million from next year’s budget.

Rob Lester, ELPCSG chair, said: “Most of the men in our group have distressing symptoms of urinary function, such that we have sudden urgency to urinate and have a need to pass urine more frequently than the average person. Our members will often plan their trips around the city with a clear route map in their minds of where toilet facilities are located.

“This is of greater importance, too, given Police Scotland’s commitment to taking action against urination in public places.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect men in the UK, with around 42,000 cases diagnosed every year.

City chiefs have outlined a number of measures aimed at offsetting any closures, including a “community toilet scheme” which would see high street businesses open their doors to pedestrians in need.

But Mr Lester said he was not convinced this would work in Edinburgh, noting that one ELPCSG member caught short on Dalry Road was advised by shop staff to go to Haymarket Station instead.

“Our experience of asking local businesses for the use of their toilet facilities has not always been positive,” he said.

“And we therefore doubt if this is a reliable solution to the problem of urgently needing to go to the toilet.

“We do not object to paying a reasonable charge for toilet facilities, but we certainly see the provision of well-maintained public toilets as an essential service.”

Council chiefs thanked ELPCSG leaders for their response and said all criticisms would be carefully considered.

A spokeswoman said: “Our current review of public toilets, which looks to reduce the costs of providing public conveniences, aims to ensure that there is sufficient provision for visitors and residents at key locations in the city, and will take into account a range of factors.”