… Community Toilet Schemes

October 6, 2010 at 5:48 pm Leave a comment

It must have been beginner’s luck when I won a goldfish race at the St John’s Hill Festival, although I did put in the effort (“Come on No. 4!!!”). After claiming my prize, a free meal at Fish Club(!), I left the restaurant, headed to the bus stop and instantly needed the loo.

Having spent the day before marking Wandsworth’s Community Toilets on a map I knew full well that there were 3 businesses on this stretch of road who’s facilities I could have used.

The point of the schemes is that you don’t have to be a customer to use the participant’s toilet facilities. Often people quite logically interpret this as not having to ask to use the loo (since you know the answer’s ‘yes’) but that’s a bit unrealistic in a small italian restaurant – the waitress is going to greet you, so you’re guaranteed some sort of conversation on intent.  Not the end of the earth, but enough to make me choose option 4: ‘Wait Until You Get Home’.

I think I’d be happier if I thought that anyone else, ever, had gone into Cantuccio and announced they were just there for the loo.

So here’s my question: Do people use Community Toilet Schemes?

The government wrote guidance on setting up a CTS using Richmond-upon-Thames as their example. Richmond measured the impact of their scheme using their citizen’s panel, and learnt that ‘whilst one in four residents were dissatisfied with traditional public toilets in the Borough, only 6 per cent felt dissatisfied with the Community Toilet Scheme’

Good news, though it doesn’t really answer the question.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this… I like Community Toilet Schemes, I’d tick the ‘satisfied’ box in the residents survey, and if I choose not to use it, well, that’s my business. In council terms they definitely work – high resident satisfaction coupled with excellent value for money (£600 grant to the business for a community toilet, compared with, say, £18000 for an ‘Automatic Public Convenience‘? ch-ching!)

I’m probably wrong – there’s probably a mass of St John’s Hill locals mentally noting the CTS stickers in the windows and popping in whilst running errands. I did use one Community Toilet once , in our local McDonalds who have definitely got the right idea: people are going to use them anyway so they may as well make some money out of it!, and I enjoyed waltzing in guilt-free.

Community Toilet Schemes are still a new development and will require a bit of a culture shift for the public to feel comfortable using them. But I guess I just want to make it as smooth a transition as possible, and think that some evidence of use is necessary to make sure the businesses that are participating are the right ones in the right places.  How you do this is trickier: the government guidance does recommend monitoring, then instantly falls silent.

After all, if you don’t have to ask to use the loo, how do you then measure use?

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Entry filed under: Service Design. Tags: , .

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