French style open-air toilets coming to Meadows

Crowds flock to the Meadows on sunny days
Crowds flock to the Meadows on sunny days
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ZUT Alors! It is a wee part of French life from Montpelier to Montparnasse – and now it’s coming to Marchmont.

Continental open-air toilets would be introduced to cut down on public urination under plans being considered by city leaders.

Outdoor facilities – known as “pissoirs” in cities such as Paris – are planned for the Meadows after widespread complaints about people urinating in the open air in the summer months.

Environment leaders said they recognised the issue is a “particular challenge” and are willing to invest in facilities.

The Friends of the Meadows have campaigned for years for better facilities, after finding both men and women urinating in doorways and alleyways.

Facilities would be open 24-hours-a-day and be relatively cheap to install. The British Toilet Association suggested the structures could be constructed for around £15,000 per block, depending on access to drainage.

Jim Orr, the city’s deputy environment leader and a councillor for the Meadows, said: “We’re presented with a particular challenge of needing public toilet facilities that are 24-hour, but also cheap in this difficult economic climate.

“We’ve been looking for solutions which will be acceptable to the local population and continental-style open toilets would appear the best option. These must be easy to use quickly, because there is massive demand in summer. We’re looking at places like the pavilion, where the drainage and plumbing is already in place.

“We’ve done some research and some of these are in fact very elegant. We’re looking at provision for men but also for women, as we’re keen to ensure they are not left without adaquate facilities.

“Ideally we had intended for these to be available by early summer, but it may be next year before they are in place.”

The first pissoir was introduced in 19th-century Paris by city moderniser Claude-Philibert Barthelot. Original structures are highly regarded in terms of design and the premise has been repeated across Europe.

Heather Goodare, of Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, said the issue was an important one for local residents. “The provision of more toilets in the Meadows is really important,” she said.

“In high summer there are tens of thousands of people on the Meadows and just two toilets at the very edge of the park.

“We’re pleased to hear Cllr Orr has proposed the continental-style pissoir. Our members addressed the council on Thursday and spoke of finding people, girls as well as boys, weeing on their doorstep in the middle of the day.”

Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, added: “As you heard from Friends of the Meadows, there are many reports of people urinating in residents’ doorways so we are looking at this seriously. Deploying the extra 12 wardens throughout the city, as detailed in next week’s budget, will make a difference – if we actually get a summer this year.”