May 18 2013 Latest news:
Friday, August 17, 2012
Joggers, dog-walkers and anyone simply out for a stroll in Regent’s Park and Hyde Park will soon have to spend more than a penny if they wish to use the loo.
»Joggers, dog-walkers and anyone simply out for a stroll in Regent’s Park and Hyde Park will soon have to spend more than a penny if they wish to use the loo.
Bosses at the Royal Parks are planning to charge people to use the toilets across its eight parks – including Regent’s Park, Hyde Park and Primrose Hill.
They insist it will only cost 20p – but park campaigners are worried that people caught without small change may be forced to go behind a bush.
Conall Macfarlane, a member of the Friends of Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, said: “The parks are one of the great bonuses of London. Are we actually going to deprive people of the ability to use the facilities except by paying?
“The people who will scream are the cabbies. A lot of drivers use the loos and they will be furious if they have to pay.
“A lot of joggers get caught short. Are they going to have to go around jangling money in their pockets?”
Judy Hillman, patron of the Friends of Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill, added: “The park is not near other buildings so if you are caught short without change, it’s a problem – particularly for women.
“Can you get fixed penalty notices for weeing behind a bush?”
The Royal Parks wants to recoup some of its increasing overheads. Cleaning costs alone have risen from approximately £800,000 a year three years ago to approximately £1.1million in 2010-11.
The parks already outsource the cleaning of the toilets but now it wants a private company to both clean and maintain the loos.
And as part of the 10-year contract, the company will be able to levy a fixed charge of 20p.
Turnstiles will be installed at its 29 public toilet blocks, the worst of which will also be refurbished.
Only disabled, café and playground toilets, as well as those at The Hub sports facility at Regent’s Park, will remain free.
A spokesman for The Royal Parks said: “This is not about making money. We are not even breaking even.
“About eight million people use the toilets each year so it will be a sizeable contribution. The parks is currently tendering for a supplier to refurbish, maintain and clean the toilets.”
Not all park users are annoyed. Karen Scarborough, a committee member of the Hyde Park Estate Association, which is situated off Edgware Road, said: “Nothing is free anymore, not even going to the loo.
“If they are going to refurbish them slightly, it’s only fair that we contribute.”
The charge will not come into effect until 2013.