The British Toilet Association conference was held at The Stratford Hotel, Stratford on Avon on Wednesday 21 September. This was a once a year opportunity for providers of publicly accessible toilets to network with product and service suppliers, as well as user group representatives, to discuss best practice and learn what can and is being done to improve publicly accessible toilets throughout the UK. It also provided an ideal opportunity to recognise the cutting edge of washroom product development and service provision.
Following the conference opening by BTA chairman, Richard Chisnell, BTA director Mike Bone provided an overview of the preceding 12 months which included details of meetings and activity involving other associations and organisations at home and abroad, events and presentations, promotion and publicity. BTA consultancy, advice and information services were reviewed and membership trends discussed.
Gillian Kemp, BTA management committee member, launched the ‘We need the loo’ campaign, a joint venture between the Women’s Design Group, BTA and the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering. The campaign is promoting an online petition to ask Government to make adequate public toilet provision a legal requirement - http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/15258. The expectation is that the petition will get at least 100,000 signatures and will be eligible for debate in the House of Commons.
Richard Berry, scrutiny manager from the Greater London Assembly, opened the second session providing delegates with an explanation of the status of public toilet provision in London and the GLA’s ‘Public Toilets in London’ report. Mary Milne, senior campaigns officer for Age UK, then explained how toilet closures impact the ageing population UK wide.
In the fourth presentation Christian Harris, director of Bonasystems, demonstrated how slips in toilets could be prevented by improving the safety of floors. This was followed by Roger Berry, managing director of Healthmatic, explaining how Healthmatic, in association with the South Bank Employers Group, will be providing a new public toilet block on the South Bank in London, near the London Eye, where 13.8 million visitors a year currently have ‘nowhere to go’.
The final session was a discussion on the 10 things that local authorities need to know to protect public toilets from closure. The conference delegates were very concerned at the effect the current financial situation is having on local authority budgets and the likely impact on the provision of public toilets. The solutions discussed provided delegates with ideas and case studies that overcome many of the issues that are currently leading to increasing numbers of public toilet closures.
The conference closed with an open forum and the BTA annual general meeting followed.