Edinburgh needs public toilets set up during Covid to return for the sake of comfort, cleanliness and health – Melanie Main

I’ve just walked home across the Meadows, where hundreds of people of all ages were enjoying the winter sunshine. As the weather warms, more will join them coming from ever further afield.
Edinburgh needs to provide greater access to public toilets (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)Edinburgh needs to provide greater access to public toilets (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
Edinburgh needs to provide greater access to public toilets (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

But since I was elected a councillor ten years ago, spring heralds the same awful issue – urination in local streets, in private doorways and quiet alleys.

The constant daily stench is not easily forgettable and it is just not acceptable. Hard-fought campaigns floundered for years until, during the pandemic, temporary ‘summer’ public toilets were installed in our major parks as a one-off.

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For years, the city has sold off and closed public toilets, while those remaining lack investment and maintenance. Now there are simply not enough public toilets in our parks and high streets, accessible and open when needed.

Whether you believe Edinburgh people should take a walk through the park to stay fit and healthy or to cut pollution and do their bit towards our aim of a 2030 net-zero city, it is shameful that our Capital can’t accommodate basic human needs.

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Although the footfall in our parks and green spaces has grown appreciably through the Covid pandemic, many people simply can’t head out to enjoy our parks because going out means going without.

Last year Greens won agreement for new public toilet policy, and a strategy is on its way. In the meantime, it’s almost spring and we need those temporary public toilets back for comfort, for cleanliness and for everyone’s health and well-being.

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Melanie Main is the Scottish Green councillor for Morningside and spokesperson for health and social care

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