23rd October 2015

Earlier this year, being charged for using a public toilet ranked third in a survey to find Britain’s most hated stealth charges; clearly something which is grinding the gears of the nation. With this in mind here at Event Washrooms, we have taken a look at the toilets profiting from the need to empty our bladders to decide whether they can warrant changing us at our most vulnerable.

£2.3million Revenue From Public Toilet Charges

It was reported last month that London Victoria, one of London’s busiest train stations, took £2.3 million over three years from public toilet charges, thats over £760,000 per year. These figures make it the highest earning public toilet in Britain. This huge figure can be put down to the sheer footfall in Victoria which amounts to just over 80 million people every year and the fact that earlier this year the charge rose from 30p to 50p.

Where Does This Money Go?

The question is where does the money go? The short answer is that given by a network rail spokesperson last month who said “The small charge we make for using the public toilet facilities in our stations helps to maintain them, ensures they are fully staffed and prevents misuse such as vandalism and other anti-social behaviour. Any profit from station toilets is reinvested in the railway and passenger facilities”

In theory this makes a lot of sense, plenty of us complain about the facilities of train stations every day so if the toilet charges are going towards improving our daily travel experience then we should graciously accept the 20/50p turnstile awaiting us.

Are We Getting Our Money’s Worth?

The problem is whether we are getting our money’s worth. Those of us who regularly use Birmingham New Street station might feel we have. New Street is Great Britain’s 8th busiest station and has just completed a £550 million redevelopment plan, making it more accessible and efficient. The station currently runs on a 30p toilet charge and makes around £700,000 per year, so you can assume some the pennies spent there have been reinvested in the redevelopment.

Train stations pose a fair argument about getting your moneys worth, but what about those not concerning transport? A public toilet in Kinlochleven in the Scottish Highlands reportedly charges £1 for its use, while a number of central London public toilets (opposite Westminster Abbey for example) charge 50p, merely for their upkeep.

There is obviously an argument to be had regarding local authorities and how they spend their money, and is probably above the station of a blog post on public toilets, but it’s obviously concerning for people living in those areas.

The Number of Public Loos Is Declining

It looks even more likely that you’ll be forced into paying for your public toilets as the sheer number of them has declined substantially over recent years. According to statistics released last year by the British Toilet Association (BTA) between 2004 and 2014 there was a 40% drop in public toilets. 

Thankfully the culture of paying for public toilets isn’t as ingrained here as across Europe. For example it wasn’t until 2006 that Paris built 400 free public toilets to cope with the amount of people ‘going for free’ in the street, causing serious questions about the city’s hygiene.

Tell us about your event