The 5000 toilets of England and Wales
I’ve completed a count of public and community toilets in England and Wales, as listed on council websites.
It began last May. Spurred on by my annoyance at Wandsworth Council’s decision to stop paying businesses to be in their Community Toilet Scheme (a decision which has reduced the number of participants from 75 to 7), I wanted to know whether other councils pay participants to be in their schemes, and how many schemes exist.
“How long can it take to Google every council?” I wondered.
Well, I’ve just finished. (I did have a baby in between)
I decided, whilst I was searching, to also record the URL of each council’s community toilet scheme (CTS) webpage, and also their public convenience page. I also counted how many toilets there were.
I used an ONS spreadsheet of population density to get the list of all the district and unitary authority councils for England and Wales, then googled them one by one. If Google didn’t find anything I searched the council website directly. If that did’t find anything I moved on. Consequently I’ve not done Scotland and Northern Ireland. They’ll have to wait.
The results are:
3980 public toilets
1009 community toilets
59 community toilet schemes
The vast majority of schemes pay businesses to participate, ranging from £200 to £1560 a year. Some councils are not forthcoming with the information and I have to search the minutes of the council meetings, which can affect my will to live. Sometimes I give up.
In Wales, where it seems the Welsh Government has spurred on every council to start a scheme, the going-rate is £500.
These figures are not conclusive. Sometimes I miscount. Also, they are reliant on the information being available online, and on it being up-to-date. Some councils may have lots of loos but prefer to keep it to themselves.
There are also over 1000 toilets in railway stations, a couple of hundred on the Transport for London network, and lots in service stations and shopping centres which are generally not included in these webpages. Also some councils are devolving public toilets to smaller town and parish councils, and I’m not about the google all of them.
So for England and Wales there are probably another 2000 publicly accessible toilets out there which are not included here, bringing the total up to around 7000 loos.
Good to know.