Archive for December, 2012

… the British Toilet Association

Nearly 3 months ago now I went to the annual conference of the British Toilet Association.

The BTA’s annual conference consists of a morning meeting of around 30-40 people in a hotel in Stratford.

Shakespeare's Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon

Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon

It was one of the most useful conferences that I’d been to. The first person I spoke to was Mark Power, the architect who’d designed the new public toilet on the South Bank in London, the ‘Jubiloo’. The next was Roger Berry, the managing director of Healthmatic, one of the main providers of public toilets in the UK. Roger impressed me with his ipad full of public toilet usage statistics – footfall, fluctuation, revenus, ratings, feedback. I had found my people.

Raymond Martin of the BTA talked about the association’s consultation work with a few UK councils, and gave many interesting examples of public toilet management from around the country.

For example, a local scout group had been encouraged to ‘adopt a loo’. how this worked was that the council gave the scout group a couple of grand (I’m guessing..) to maintain the toilet, and any money left over at the end of the year they could keep. The theory was that the vandalism was being carried out by people of the scouts’ age, but that ‘peer-to-peer policing’ would be an effective way of reducing bad behaviour.

In another corner of the country, a council gave a local artist a patch on the street to sell his work, in exchange for keeping an eye on the toilets next door. Other services located at a public toilet to either maintain the toilet or provide natural surveillance included: a taxi rank, bike hire, tourist information, shop and ticket sellers.

Many toilets close due to poor maintenance and anti-social behaviour (or the fear of). ‘Design out crime’ ideas such as stainless steel toilets and UV lighting also design out legitimate use. Ideas such as these provide a more affordable way to maintain a public toilet.

We then had 2 presentations from sales people with public toilet-related products, although I can’t find the links right now so I’ll fill this in later.

I gave a 20 minute presentation about the Great British Public Toilet Map. Both Healthmatic and the BTA were supportive of the project and keen to see it develop. A representative of Visit Britain was also encouraging and we had a good gossip over lunch about the lack of government open data and the struggles of a similar project to map blue badge parking.

All in all, a good day. If I can just get the map off the ground again (translation: find more money), then the support is there to keep it going.

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December 14, 2012 at 11:34 am 1 comment


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