Scotland’s national charity for older people is calling on Dundee City Council to reverse cuts to public toilets, which it says could have a “serious impact” on the quality of life of vulnerable residents.
Age Scotland wrote to the council before World Toilet Day – a global event highlighting the needs for decent sanitation – urging them to make toilet provision a budget priority.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by the charity has revealed four facilities have been closed in Dundee in the past five years, while seven have been considered for closure during the same period.
Age Scotland is calling on Dundee City Council to commit to no further closures of public toilets, to secure funding for the maintenance of existing facilities and investigate how the number of toilets available to the public can be increased.
Chief Executive Brian Sloan said: “While many are quite rightly standing up for sanitation in the developing world, we are urging Dundee City Council to look closer to home and ensure the retention of public toilets.
“We know from speaking to older people that clean, accessible public toilets are absolutely essential for many to be able to enjoy a decent quality of life.
“They help older people with certain medical conditions and incontinence to live as normal a life as possible, being able to travel and interact with services and the local economy.
“For many, if there is no provision for public toilets, they simply will not leave their home. This means less socialising, less shopping, difficulty attending medical appointments and a surge in loneliness and social isolation.
“We recognise that budgets are tight, but we believe that the council should consider the wider impact of public toilet closures on physical and mental health.
“Many councils are already using creative solutions, such as partnerships with local businesses, to increase provision.”
Age Scotland insists clean, accessible toilets are “absolutely essential” for many older people and those with disabilities to get out and and enjoy a decent quality of life.
Its own research found 44% of older people in Scotland would use public transport more if they could rely on the provision of toilets in towns and cities.
In response to Age Scotland’s Freedom of Information request, Dundee City Council confirmed it holds no partnerships with local businesses to provide facilities for residents and no consideration has been given to providing this in the future.
The local authority did not respond to The Courier’s request for comment.