Following a public consultation, five sets of automated public toilets are set to close across Sheffield in order to save around £100,000 a year in maintenance costs.

As the toilets are used so infrequently, keeping them open would cost Sheffield City Council just under £10 per use. At the least popular facility, in Birley Moor Road, the cost of each use would be more than £56.

Despite extensive publicity in the press, online, on the radio and in face-to-face meetings, only 22 people took part in the consultation, which ran for five weeks in the autumn.

Of those people who gave their views, 57 per cent said they had never used the automated public toilets in Angel Street, Birley Moor Road, Holme Lane, Staniforth Road and on Devonshire Green.

At present, these toilets are only used an average of five times a day – and the Birley Moor Road facility was only used 357 times in the whole of 2014.

Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Sheffield City Council, said: “The Government is making yet more cuts to local government funding. Over the last five years we have had to find savings of £300m and we are expecting another £50m in the coming financial year.

“We know that public toilets are an essential facility and will ensure there is still provision across Sheffield. However, in these times of austerity, it is simply not cost-effective to keep running these automated toilets which, in some cases, aren’t even used as often as once a day.

“The fact that the toilets aren’t used was also reflected in the fact that so few people took part in the public consultation. We will now be closing these automated toilets, while ensuring there is other provision where people need it.”

The changes have come about 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 next month 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 for each use of the toilet would be just under £10. People who use the toilets pay either 10p or 20p, depending upon the site.

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

Key findings

In total, 22 people responded to the consultation
Of those, only nine reported having ever used the automated toilets being consulted on
Of those reporting using the current facilities, frequency of usage was low, with seven respondents using the facilities less than once per month
Eight respondents reported having a disability
Approximately 50 per cent of respondents were aware of the Community Toilet Scheme
Several suggestions were received for additional businesses / providers to join the scheme
The conclusion, therefore, is that the impact of the closure of these facilities would be limited

ENDS

Notes to Editors

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