Call to council: Bring the park toilets back into use
THE closure of public toilets has left a park used by Fishponds residents blighted by human waste.
Another park in the area has missed out on special needs-friendly status because its nearest toilets closed.
Bristol City Council says it is now “exploring” the idea of installing new toilets in Eastville Park, after erecting a temporary block at St George Park for the duration of the school summer holidays.
This year’s budget cuts saw the toilets at Eastville Park and Fishponds Park shut to save maintenance costs. Those at Snuff Mills and Vassals Park stayed open.
Fishponds resident Irene Blessitt is a member of the Friends of Eastville Park group and visits the park every day to walk her dogs.
She told Fishponds Voice she has seen human excrement and soiled toilet paper at the side of paths and in woodland areas of the park.
Irene said she was concerned the waste could become a safety hazard for children visiting the park during the summer holidays, who would also suffer from having nowhere to go to the loo.
She said the closure also affected up to 300 runners who attended the Eastville Parkrun each weekend, as well as homeless people living in the park.
“This lack of facilities is not acceptable, especially when there is a toilet block on site,” said Irene.
“If you go into the woodland it can be pretty horrible.
“What are we teaching our children by doing this? And what do the homeless people do? Where are they getting their water from?”
Irene is calling on residents to contact their councillors and the council’s Deputy Mayor for Communities, Equalities & Public Health, Asher Craig, to demand the toilets are reopened.
The closure of the public toilets on Fishponds Road at the edge of Fishponds Park has also caused problems for the park’s friends group, who have raised money to replace old play equipment and redesign the play area.
Friends of Fishponds Park chair Brian Smith said they had been trying to get and inclusive playground rating from PiPA, which certifies playgrounds as suitable for children with disabilities and special needs.
He said: “We ticked nine of the eleven requirements and with the new play equipment it would be ten. But one of the qualifications was for there to be a public toilet within 100 metres.”
Brian said that missing out on the rating meant abandoning a planned bid for National Lottery funding.
“It’s very disappointing for us,” he said. “The council’s between a rock and a hard place. We know they’ve got to save money but surely they have a duty of care to provide facilities for people to go to the toilet?”
Councillor Craig said the authority had been “working hard” to set up its Community Toilet Scheme, where businesses agreed to let the public use their toilet facilities, following the closures. The closest venues to Fishponds Park are Porto Lounge and the Van Dyck Forum.
She said: “Nearly 70 venues have signed up to take part in the scheme offering free toilets for the public to use around the city.
“We are currently in discussions with other venues around the city about signing up.
“Venues which join the scheme are issued with a sign, highlighting that members of the public are welcome to use their toilet facilities.
“At Oldbury Court public toilets remain open and in Eastville Park we are exploring installing toilets at the top end of the park, but the details are yet to be finalised.”
nThe council has announced it is working with Bath & North East Somerset Council to develop a Parks Foundation to support public parks in the two cities.
It says a foundation would: • Allow residents, visitors, community organisations and local businesses to support improvements and activities in parks;
• Develop sustainable relationships between business, parks and their communities;
• Enable public donations for specific projects both in individual parks and across the cities;
• Use innovative ideas to seek unrestricted public donations, including legacies;
• Work with park groups and others to apply for grants;
•Encourage and facilitate more volunteering in parks.