The state of our public toilets – the House of Commons


The state of our public toilets

In the House of Commons this week (7th February), during a debate on local government finance, David Simmons MP (Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner) observed:

“There is an old saying that we can tell the state of a civilisation by the condition of its public toilets. It is often one of the services that the wider public and voters associate with local government, alongside potholes. 

However, as has been well reflected in the debate, local government finance is a huge part of overall Government and public sector expenditure. The vast majority of it – around 75% of the average local authority’s budget – goes not on public toilets, libraries or potholes, but on the care of the most vulnerable people in our society. 

All of it is hugely influential on the quality of life of our constituents, because it affects everything from education to the built environment, and things such as parks and sports facilities, which are incredibly important in people’s day-to-day lives.”

The CFPI welcomes this statement by Mr Simmons. It is true that when nothing seems to be working, nothing seems to be funded, residents notice their bins filling up for an extra week, the toilets in their park shuttered, the book club at their library cancelled.

We need to fund services, but if we have ambition for our towns and cities, we need more than top-up funding to meet running costs. We need to invest in where we live, and by doing so, invest in the people who live there.