Campaigning against public toilet closures

24 May 2019, Tim Burton - 

In the last 5 years Britain’s public toilet budgets have fallen by £26 million. This has seen the number of public toilets in the country drop by 13%, with rural areas particularly suffering from these cuts.

For World Continence Week 2019, The Urology Foundation is calling on local government to reverse these cuts. Access to public toilets is essential for millions of people in the UK and so we are standing with them.

The numbers are stark

In 37 areas across the country, major councils no longer run any public toilets. The Isle of Wight has lost 92% of its public toilets, the city of Swansea has seen number cut in half, and the number of public toilets in Cornwall has fallen from 247 in 2011 to just 14 in 2018.

Recent research by the Royal Society for Public Health has revealed that lack of public toilets is deterring 1 in 5 people from venturing out of their homes – this number rises to nearly half (43%) of people with a medical condition that requires frequent toilet use. That same research revealed that 3 in 4 Britons think there are not enough public toilets in their area.

This is not a minor problem

That same report from the Royal Society for Public Health said that access to public toilets is as essential as providing street lights. It is not something that should be cut, especially not now.

With people in the UK living longer, weak bladders are becoming more common. Overactive bladder (OAB) is a condition that makes it very hard for an individual to hold their bladder, and it’s not limited to older people. 1 in 8 people in the UK have OAB, that’s more than diabetes and it’s more than asthma.

Meanwhile, there are many other conditions that lead people to needing access to toilet facilities frequently. Here’s just a little list:

  • People who have undergone surgery for prostate or bladder cancer
  • Many women who have undergone childbirth
  • Men with an enlarged prostate (half of men over 50)
  • Many people with neurological conditions and spinal cord injuries

That list is just a sample, and doesn’t even mention any persons with bowel conditions. Access to public toilets is an issue that affects millions of us. And it is deterring millions of us from even leaving the home.

You can do something about it

If you are concerned about this issue, there are steps you can take. The Urology Foundation has supported the All Party Parliamentary Group on Continence and their Early Day Motion that raises the issue of public toilet closures in parliament. You can write to or Tweet your MP and ask them to support this Motion, which will put pressure on the government to take action. Download a letter template here.

You can also write to your local councillors to ask them to take action in your local area. Together we can make a difference and demonstrate to our representatives that closing public toilets is unacceptable.

If you are concerned about your own ability to access a public toilet, you might benefit from one of our Need to Pee cards. Find out more about those here.


Read more


Read more


Read more

Male reproductive organs

Read more