Councillors endorse unisex toilets after topic creates a stink

Proposed new toilets on Bognor Regis seafront will be unisex
Proposed new toilets on Bognor Regis seafront will be unisex

Unisex public toilets will be installed across Arun district ‘wherever appropriate’ despite councillors’ concerns over their suitability.

Cabinet members discussed the council’s policy on integrated loos on Monday, endorsing their future installation in a nod to equality.

It came after numerous councillors were dismayed to be told the council’s policy on the type of toilet considered was a matter for officers, not elected members.

Full council last month saw councillors criticise the advice and leader Gill Brown requested a report on the issue to be considered by cabinet.

But despite discomfort over the concept of unisex toilets, cabinet endorsed their future provision where appropriate.

Arun leader Gill Brown said: “We are a sort of modern and inclusive council and we have to be responsive to changes in society and those changes are happening all the time, even if sometimes some elements don’t sit comfortably with everyone.

“My personal opinion is that these toilets are much safer.”

Debate was sparked when cabinet rejected a recommendation in December by the environment and leisure working group, calling on it to confirm a policy on unisex toilet provision.

Chief executive Nigel Lynn advised it was an ‘operational matter’ and for officers to determine.

Liberal Democrat James Walsh criticised the advice and was supported by several councillors, including Conservative Barbara Oakley who had previously criticised unisex toilet plans for Bognor Regis seafront. He called for the stance to be reviewed and for councillors to have a say.

A report to Monday’s cabinet noted many new public facilities were unisex.

Mrs Brown pointed to examples including Arundel Museum and West Park, Aldwick.

The report outlined the council’s requirements to comply with its own equality policy, as well as legislation.

It added: “For the majority of the population born after 2000 the provision of self-contained cubicle toilets is highly unlikely to be an issue.”

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