… Wandsworth – Part II

February 1, 2011 at 10:52 am 3 comments

What is a public toilet?

I keep talking about local authorities as the providers of public toilets. In reality I’m not quite that naive.

For there are many ‘publicly-accessible toilets’ that do not (or may not) fall under council control, e.g.

  • Parks
  • Shopping Centres
  • Transport Hubs (Train / Underground / Bus / Port)

Here’s a sliding scale of publicly-accessible toilets that I made.

Green is public sector, blue is private sector.

By ‘accessible’ I mean mentally, or legally, more than physically (accessible is often used to describe wheelchair-accessible facilities – that’s a whole other issue). Accessible is clearly not a great word to use – suggestions are welcome… Some of the ordering is a little dubious too…

Further down the scale most of the toilets are not ‘intended’ for the general public. Including these in maps and apps rather disadvantages those people who don’t wish to ask favours or blag it. Not really inclusive design…

My earlier map of the London Borough of Wandsworth toilets showed the council’s Superloos (marked in yellow) and Community Toilet Scheme (blue), but now it has all of the other publicly-accessible toilets too. This has added nearly 20 extra loos, more than some councils have in the first place!

Where did these extra toilets come from?

A few are in Battersea Park, in the north of the Borough (green). The park’s toilets are not on the council website (or data) because they’re managed by the Friends of Battersea Park, I think.

But what do we care who manages Battersea Park toilets, as long as our complaints (and compliments!) get to the right person. The same goes for the 3 toilets found in train stations (red) and 2 in shopping centres (purple).

The London Borough of Hillingdon are setting a good example. They may not have much info on their website but they do produce a nice toilet map (pdf) – which covers Superloos, Train and Tube Stations, Shopping Centres and Libraries.

What they also don’t cover though is Open London. The Greater London Authority (the Mayor etc) have set up this scheme with some national retailers, allowing anyone in London to use the customer toilets in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis without being a customer.

This information hasn’t been adopted by any of the London Boroughs when publicising their Public Toilets or Community Toilet Schemes. In Wandsworth that’s another 9 loos… (in pink)

It’s a common complaint that there aren’t enough public toilets, not least because so many have been shut down.

But sometimes… maybe there are? If only we were told where they are.

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Entry filed under: Open Data. Tags: , , , , .

… Answers Idea #7: What Community Toilet Scheme?

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paul Byford  |  February 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Again, very useful info. I have wondered why there isn’t any inclusion of Open London within CTS schemes. As you correctly illustrate, this adds a number of prime loos to the Wandsworth collection. A visitor to Wandsworth Town Centre, for example would be able to look up the CTS sites but wouldn’t be aware of the toilets in Southside or those at Sainsbury’s in Garratt Lane. Any borough (even toilet-less Merton!) could at least build a skeleton CTS using Open London premises.

    I also wonder why no health centres seem to be in CTS schemes. You’d have thought they’d have been keen, having an interest in public health as they do. I feel a missive to my local PCT coming on.

    I have noticed some new CTS members recently, Konigan’s in Old York Road and Starbucks in Putney and Southfields. The newer additions all seem to be displaying the signs whereas the older ones are still mainly incognito. WBC aim to hit 100 premises by December (when the remaining Superloos will bow out). The new premises haven’t appeared on the website yet.

    Reply
  • 2. Gail Knight  |  February 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Hi Paul – Good point about the health centres. ‘Toilet experts’ that I know have said that it’s very difficult to engage the public health side of toilet provision (despite that being the Victorians’ reasons for creating many of them), but then I haven’t actually tried myself…

    I remembered yesterday that you said Pizza Express on Old York Road had joined and was a member but I failed to notice it was missing when using the web info to make my map on Friday… the following Monday Wandsworth published an open dataset of all their toilets, that had 20 more than on the website!

    On the plus side, the ‘open’ data will make it easy to automatically generate a new map (rather than adding each point manually to Google Maps) just as soon as I learn how.

    Plus they seem to be doing the same themselves, so their website will be updated with maps linked from the real data rather than the non-interactive snapshot maps that they have now. I guess there’s a delay with these things…

    I didn’t realise they were subtly (and very quietly!) removing Superloos! A couple of the libraries are also removed from their list, which seems a bit weird. Do you know anything about that?

    And I couldn’t find a CTS sticker anywhere on the Town Hall itself, despite their having 2 toilets. Have you?

    Reply
  • 3. Paul Byford  |  February 3, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Hi Gail. I don’t think I’ve seen any CTS signs at the Town Hall entrance, unless I’ve missed them. I had a look at the Open Data and I think there are some sites missing (which might include the libraries you mentioned). They seem to have signed up every Starbucks and Pizza Express in the borough! Glad to see that the scheme is expanding.
    Re: the Superloos, only a few remain now, and they are doomed. I’ve attached the Council paper from last summer, which is obviously a bit dry but does have quite a lot of information about the CTS in it. Here it is:
    http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=11187

    Reply

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