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Brighton and Hove cafe culture could be used to help wee problem
Spending a penny could be the price of a cuppa if a new council plan is adopted.
Brighton and Hove council are considering whether the city's vibrant cafe culture is the answer to cuts to public toilets.
Restaurants, pubs and cafes could invite members of the public to use their loos under the scheme.
The council are considering whether to introduce a Paris-style system where cafe customers have a toilet token but non-customers pay a small charge.
The proposals were made by the council's Overview and Scrutiny Panel.
The panel wants to maintain publicly accessible toilets in the city amid budget cuts.
It is hoped the scheme would create extra toilets for less money - with a boost for participating business with increased customers.
A scheme called 'Use our loo' was launched last year but only 19 businesses, many of them pubs have signed up. The panel now want to encourage more businesses such as cafes which will be more appealing for families, the disabled and people who are uncomfortable going into pubs.
The report found: “Despite concerns raised about the ability of business to provide a significant alternative to public provision of toilets, the significant number of cafes led the panel to believe this sector could make a contribution.”
There are 838 food and drink outlets which could join the scheme.
However smaller businesses may be unsuitable for large numbers of visitors.
The report was produced in response to the 2012/13 budgetary debate and financial pressures.
Local authorities are not under a duty to provide public toilets.
There are currently 81 publicly accessible toilets in the city.
These include 44 council-owned toilets and 19 toilets in libraries, museums and leisure centres.
The remaining 19 are businesses signed up to the council's current 'Use our loo' scheme.
Businesses are paid £600 a year for allowing public use of their toilets.
But the old scheme was not considered a great success because there was low take-up following concerns over antisocial behaviour, opening up the premises to 'all and sundry' and extra running and insurance cost implications.
Claire Wood, owner of Soup-urb cafe, Trafalgar Street, said: “I always let people use the toilets anyway. I think it's reasonable and when people walk past our lovely cakes they might come back later. If the council can help us out somehow then I'd absolutely be in favour, it makes sense.”
The idea will be discussed at a committee meeting on July 15.
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