Camden Council has announced the launch of its community toilet scheme, under which twelve businesses across Camden will be paid £750 a year to allow non-customers to use their toilets.

I welcome these businesses joining the project, but the scheme urgently needs more if it’s to work. The City of London’s scheme involves 75 businesses – despite the City being just a seventh the size of Camden. And Conservative-run Richmond-on-Thames has 70, despite having far fewer residents or visitors than Camden.

Furthermore, this is clearly part of Labour’s plan to close our public toilets. The announcement says the following:

We are still keen to recruit more, particularly in Kilburn and Kentish Town, and the areas in and around West End Lane, South End Green and Pond Square.

“West End Lane, South End Green, and Pond Square”, eh? By a strange coincidence, those are also the three exact locations of public toilets in the north of the borough! However, next to a public toilet is exactly where you wouldn’t need businesses participating – unless, of course, those toilets were going to close!

With only twelve signed up, including just one (Burgh House) in the whole of Hampstead, and with none near Hampstead Heath, the scheme is no substitute for the South End Green public toilets.

Camden should revisit its plan to close the toilets at West End Lane, Pond Square, and South End Green. A combination of funding from advertising, sponsorship, letting of space, and the Community Infrastructure Levy could easily allow Camden to keep its public toilets open, so people can spend a penny without spending anything.

Update: This has been covered in this week’s Ham & High.

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