Public toilet campaigners may have to resort to desperate measures to get results – Vladimir McTavish

The days are getting longer, the weather slightly warmer and we are past Easter.
Public toilets are not always available in parksPublic toilets are not always available in parks
Public toilets are not always available in parks

All of this signals that spring is in the air and, in many Edinburgh parks, that means we are nearing the return of the al fresco drinking season. Of course, drinking in the park has always been popular with the under-18s. Teenagers, unable to be served in pubs, could always find one member of their social group who either looked old enough, or had an older sibling who could go to the off-licence to buy them a carry-out.

Cue a party in the park. And then, three years ago, older people got in on the act. The outdoor drinking session craze really gained traction with all age groups during the first Covid lockdown in that glorious spring and summer of 2020. The pubs were shut, we were allowed out the house once a day for physical exercise and if that physical exercise involved carrying a bag of cans to the park it was, so the theory went, within the rules.

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Furthermore, everyone suddenly noticed how much cheaper it was to go to the supermarket or the off-licence, and how much more pleasant an environment was provided by the large outdoors, as opposed to a pub’s so-called “beer garden”. However, pubs have one big advantage over parks. Toilets. Pubs have them, parks quite often do not.

Over the summer of 2020, Inverleith Park became a wonderful outdoor drinking palace, with impromptu parties on every patch of grass. And improvised lavatories in every available space of secluded bush. It was both wondrous and revolting at the same time.

Eventually, one imagines that some local resident must have complained, hacked off by their evening dog-walk being ruined by their neighbourhood’s dear green space being transformed into something more like the public lavvies at Waverley Station. So the council installed temporary toilets in the park, which returned every subsequent summer. There is a strangely inspiring, if unsanitary, message here.

If you really want the council to provide toilet facilities in your local park, don’t write to the Evening News, organise a demo outside the City Chambers or write to your local councillor. And don’t start a petition on Simply encourage your friends to pee in the bushes. Direct action. Works every time.