Members of the public are being asked for their views on the proposed closure of five automated public toilets across Sheffield.
At present, the toilets are only used an average of five times a day – and one of the facilities, in Birley Moor Road – was only used 357 times in the whole 2013/14 financial year.
Councillor Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Sheffield City Council, said: “We know that public toilets are an essential facility and we will be ensuring that, if these automated toilets are closed, there is other provision where people need it.
“However, in these times of austerity, it is simply not cost effective to keep running toilets which, in some cases, aren’t even used as often as once a day.
“This is why we are asking people’s views on closing these five public toilets, asking people if they would be affected if they were closed, and asking their views on the potential of providing alternative toilet provision elsewhere.”
The automated toilets that it is proposed will be closed are at Angel Street, Birley Moor Road, Holme Lane, Staniforth Road and on Devonshire Green.
At the same time, plans are being moved forward to create a public toilet facility in the precinct at Hillsborough, with full disabled access, as a need has been identified in the area.
The changes are being mooted because the five automated toilets are linked to Sheffield City Council’s advertising contract, which is expiring.
The maintenance costs of these five facilities are currently paid for by the company that provides them, which gains an income from the advertising on the units.
However, from January 2016, the advertising will stop and the maintenance costs – an estimated £20,000 per year per facility – will have to be paid for by Sheffield City Council.
This means that the average cost to the council of each use of the toilet would be just under £10. People who use the toilets pay either 10p or 20p, depending upon the site.
At the least popular facility, in Birley Moor Road, the cost of each use would be more than £56.
Councillor Bowler added: “On the face of it, it does not make economic sense to run a public toilet facility that is so unpopular that it costs more than £56 each time someone simply wants to use the loo.
“But, at the same time, we are carrying out this consultation because we want to make sure that our services are provided fairly and to those who need them.
“I would encourage everyone to have their say on the planned changes, so that our decision can be informed by the views of as many people as possible.”
Sheffield City Council is also encouraging businesses to become part of the Community Toilet Scheme, which ensures provision of clean, safe and accessible public toilets across the city.
Further information on the scheme is available here: https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/in-your-area/toilets/community-toilet.html
The consultation will run until Sunday 18 October.
To take part, members of the public can visit the website at https://sheffield.citizenspace.com/place-business-strategy/public-toilets-consultation
Face-to-face consultation is also taking place with groups who could be most affected by the proposed changes.