This petition is now closed, as its deadline has passed.
Petition update from the council, 27 September 2017
1.0 Executive Summary
1.1 Church Street public conveniences had attracted a variety of anti-social behaviour to the local area that had become an increasing significant problem. Street dwellers were using the facilities as a “safe haven” for collecting water; bathing; laundry; sleeping; and there was also further abuse from drug dealers and users as a place of business. Consequently, following wide consultation with Ward Councillor’s and key stakeholders the difficult decision was taken to partially close the facilities for a period of time to discourage this anti-social behaviour.
1.2 During this period the disabled toilet has remained fully operational with access controlled through a key coded lock installed by WCC and the access code distributed to market traders and selected locals, including the petitioner.
1.3 The reduction in anti-social behaviour in the immediate area has been marked and the current regime extended. It is proposed that this course of action should be continued for the foreseeable future. Church Street is a major regeneration project for the Council and the current toilet block is likely to be converted to a new use with toilet facilities being re-provided locally.
1.4 The petition attracted a total of 46 signatures before it closed on 30th March 2017.
1.5 This report seeks to respond to the issues raised in this petition and advises upon the action taken by the Council and the rationale.
2.1 That the Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Corporate Services notes the receipt of the petition.
2.2 That the Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Corporate Services approved the attached draft response to the petition.
2.3 That the lead petitioners be advised of the actions to be taken in respect of this matter and be kept up-to-date of developments.
3.0 Reasons for Decision
3.1 To respond to the locally sensitive issue raised in the petition in accordance with the Council’s petition scheme.
4.1 Church Street has long been a problem area for the Street Inspectors with an escalation in anti-social behaviour and it was identified that the public toilets located on Church Street was the catalyst for much of the problem.
4.2 The population of street dwellers in the local area had dramatically increased due in the main to an influx from Eastern Europe who had settled in the area. The public toilets quickly became a place to bathe; collect water; wash clothing; a changing facility; and a place to sleep. The toilet facilities were often abused and vandalised leading to complaints from members of the public feeling threatened and also the condition of the facilities that they encountered.
4.3 In addition to the street dwellers, the facilities were also being used by drug dealers and drug users as a safe place to conduct their business.
4.4 The Council have worked with the local traders to provide key access to the toilets during the period of closure.
4.5 Petition details:-
“We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to:
'Re-open the public toilets along Church Street for the market'
The petition's details read:
“seek the immediate re-opening of the Council public convenience at the
junction of Church Street and Salisbury Street, outside the Traders Inn NW8 8QE.”
5.0 Response to petition
5.1 The Council is committed to the regeneration of Church Street and the provision of a range of quality services to its residents.
5.2 The regeneration of Church Street is being master-planned and the design is expected to include: the current toilet building moving into another sustainable use with the provision of a new form of public conveniences factored in to serve the local community.
5.3 While the regeneration is being progressed it is the view of the Council to extend the existing partial closure of the Church Street toilets indefinitely. In doing so we are supporting both the local community by moving on the anti-social behaviour while supporting our front-line officers on the ground going about their work, often under difficult circumstances. We will retain the current controlled access arrangements in place, continuing to provide an on-going facility to the disabled toilet for the market traders.
5.4 Representations have previously been made to the Council for the toilets to be manned and opened to the public all day on Saturday and Sunday. The Council has discussed this with the operator who has expressed health and safety concerns for staff who have been threatened in the past when trying to carry out their duties.
6.0 Financial Implications
6.1 This report has no financial implications.
7.0 Legal Implications
7.1 There is no legal obligation for the Council to provide public toilets and many local authorities no longer provide public conveniences.
8.0 Outstanding issues
If you have any queries about this Report please contact:
Guy Slocombe, Director of Property Investment & Estates
at 020 7641 5465 or firstname.lastname@example.org
or Alan Rhind, Head of Operational Property
at 020 7641 5462 or email@example.com
More details from petition creator
We, the undersigned seek the immediate re-opening of the Council public convenience at the junction of Church Street and Salisbury Street, outside the Traders Inn NW8 8QE.
It is the only public toilet in the area and has been locked for the past 6 months.
It not only services the neighbourhood, but all the users of Church St market during the working week and Saturday market days. It is an indispensable part of the market for local people, visitors and market traders.
It is also unfair on the Market Trader pub, which is now pressed by non-paying customers' and members of the public to use their customers toilet when facilities of the Council are so close by.