Which High Street Shops Would You Replace With Public Toilets?

By Gary Cutlack on at

A series of Freedom of Information requests on the state of public toilets in the UK paints a grim picture (in urine, up against a wall), revealing that more than 1,782 of our public toilets have closed in the last decade. So where do we go now?

The data shows that Newcastle and the London borough of Wandsworth now have zero public loos operated by their councils, as the job of providing us somewhere to wee -- and occasionally poo in a bowel movement scheduling emergency -- has been shuffled away from the public purse and into the hands of the coffee shops, pubs and book shops of the nation.

But is that really a bad thing? Aren't the toilets in your local coffee shop usually a bit nicer to be in than the depressing, stinking, hosed-down-once-a-fortnight brutalist council facilities we used to have, buildings that invariably also doubled as casual sex hotspots, homeless sleeping areas, places for children to get beaten up and drug dens? Or is a shame we don't have one unified establishment in which to have a piss, buy some drugs and get wanked off by a stranger any more?

And shouldn't we all be learning to do a wee before leaving the house anyway? Maybe it could be solved by an app. Something that uses Wi-Fi network proximity to sense you're about to leave home, so asks you to check a box confirming you've done a wee and a poo and won't need to be held, like a toddler, over a street drain to relieve yourself in 30 minutes' time, while mum throws your soiled underwear in the bin rather than carry it home?

Maybe adult nappies would be a big thing on Kickstarter, as Kickstarter likes solving problems that aren't really problems. Or maybe the government should make Starbucks have a urinal as part of its shopfront in lieu of paying any tax? Chemical toilets in the boots of all Uber cars? Drones carrying sacks of piss? Human waste bins alongside dog waste bins? Take a carrier bag with you.

Then again, perhaps we should all be given the opportunity to vote on which High Street establishments we'd like to be converted into public loos. Yes, that sounds like a good idea. So what will it be -- cheap and familiar burger chain? Equally cheap and familiar, but also sort of child labour-y clothing shop? Beware of the misery betting outlet? Suggestions below, please. [BBC]

Image credit: Public toilets from Shutterstock

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