Disability charity raises concerns over lack of public toilets

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A charity has warned a decline in the number of public toilets across Scotland risks discriminating against disabled people.

Disability Equality Scotland said a lack of available facilities can discourage those with a disability from leaving their homes because they are worried about how they will cope.

The organisation has called on councils to do more to ensure public toilets are maintained.

Meanwhile Scottish Labour has raised the issue with the Scottish Government, arguing local authorities’ stretched budgets mean non-statutory services such as toilets are sacrificed in order to maintain mandatory services.

The party quoted research by the BBC which found there are at least 161 fewer public toilets across Scotland in 2018 compared with 2010.

Morven Brooks, CEO of Disability Equality Scotland, said: “Being able to use a toilet is a basic human right, however every day thousands of disabled people across the country are denied that right due to the worrying decline in public toilets and the lack of suitable facilities therein for disabled people.

“A lack of public toilets can also be a health risk, leading to social isolation as it could prevent disabled people from leaving their homes, feeling humiliated, and worried about how they would cope without suitable public toilet facilities being available.

“We strongly believe that more must be done by local councils to maintain public toilets across Scotland to ensure that disabled people are not discriminated against.”

Labour MSP Monica Lennon added: “Disability Equality Scotland is speaking out because accessible public toilets are vital for public health and participation in community life.

“It is always the most vulnerable who pay the price of austerity.

“Scottish Labour is calling on SNP ministers to abandon cuts and to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to fund our councils properly.

“Councils, for example, want the ability to introduce a local tourist tax in their areas to help pay for community amenities like public toilets and the Scottish Government should stop preventing them from doing so.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Public toilets are clearly an important service provided by local authorities for the disabled and the wider community.

“The fact is that despite continued UK Government real terms cuts to Scotland’s resource budget, we have treated local government very fairly.

“In 2018-19, councils will receive funding through the local government finance settlement of £10.7 billion. This will provide a real terms boost in both revenue and capital funding for public services.”

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