Leader: People are willing to pay for clean loos

It costs 30p to go to the toilets at Waverley Station. Picture: Neil Hanna
It costs 30p to go to the toilets at Waverley Station. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A quarter of a million pounds a year is certainly a lot to pay to spend a penny.

But when the toilets in question are at Waverley station, where 25 million passengers pass through every year, then the total amount is hardly surprising.

Most travellers will be happy to pay a reasonable charge to be able to use clean, well-maintained conveniences, knowing that they will be open whenever they are needed.

Is 30 pence a reasonable charge? Some will think it a little steep, but the answer probably lies in how much it costs to clean and maintain the facilities.

Most people will also acknowledge that the principle of the user paying for services that they make use of is in general a fair one.

In line with that principle, it would be fair for Network Rail to keep its charges under review, and to cut the charges if it ever finds it is making a profit over and above those involved in keeping the loos in good shape.

It is impossible to avoid a comparison with what happens inside the station with what is happening outside it.

The city council is in the process of closing ten public toilets, much to the dismay of those who find the need to use them from time to time.

Could the council have taken the same approach as Network Rail and implemented a charge in order to save the loos from closure? Possibly.

But with the facilities facing the axe having been found to be relatively little used, there are questions over whether they would raise enough money to cover the cost of keeping them open.

It is vital that the city maintains a decent network of public conveniences. It is not only an important service, but also a valued one.

If the only way of doing that in future was to introduce a modest charge in return for keeping toilets in far better condition than some currently are then most people would probably be willing.