PUBLIC loos are a feminist issue and if they’re not, well, then they should be.

Thanks to austerity, public conveniences operated by local councils are fast disappearing.

Indeed 700 have closed across the country in the past eight years.

In Brighton and Hove, there are 78 publicly available toilets, according to the council.

They include traditional public loos, participants in the Use Our Loo community toilet scheme and others in public places such as libraries, museums and leisure centres. Some could soon have pay turnstiles, as reported in The Argus in April.

Public loos are very much in the public eye at the moment as Paris has just installed Uritrottoirs, or pissoirs, public urinals, on the street. Uritrottoirs look like a red post box with protruding screens to hide the urinator, where urine is soaked up by sand and sawdust within.

Setting aside any arguments about the desirability of urinating in public view, the main issue I have with it is that it is only for men.

This 21st century solution for the need for people to nip to the loo when they’re out and about completely ignores women.

Women have campaigned for their rights in almost every sphere of life but not enough on this issue when the fact is that women’s toilet needs are different than men’s.

Everywhere you go, there are queues outside women’s loos whether it be theatres, cinemas, stadiums, motorway service stations, pubs, or clubs. But never outside the men’s. I’ve never seen one in my life and, believe me, I’ve been to many a public loo in my 52 years.

Most of us women do not want to urinate in public. Really we don’t. Some, tanked up on a night out, do it on the street at one in the morning but the rest of us, quite frankly, are a bit more civilised than that.

We need privacy and that comes in the form of a cubicle because we can’t and don’t use urinals like men, not being in possession of that handy little gadget that allows men to wee standing up.

Yes, we women could do it standing up but we don’t because it means it would go all down our legs.

So we need to sit down and to do that we need a cubicle because we’re not taking our knickers down in public.

Now, for some reason, the designers of buildings with public loos never factor in sufficient room for enough cubicles to satisfy the demand by women, and those cubicles are rarely big enough to actually fit women in without us having to rub up against the wall and the toilet itself in order to close the door.

Even if the same number of men and women need the loo, women still need more cublcles because we need more time.

Men simply unzip, whip it out, wee into a urinal and zip up again, all in about 30 seconds. Women, on the other hand, have to go into the cubicle, lock the door, partially undress, put loo paper on the seat (not entirely necessary but many of us don’t want to sit down on an unclean seat), wee, wipe, dress, unlock the cubicle and leave. A couple of minutes, minimum.

Excepting men with prostate problems, women need the loo more urgently more often. When they’re pregnant, when they’ve got their period and after it as their body expels retained water, they need one to change a baby’s nappy, and if they have small children, they need a number of cubicles available.

And in the politically correct rush to start designating public facilities as gender neutral, women’s privacy and safety have not been taken into account. They may well address the concerns of transgender people who face intimidation and harassment in gender-segregated facilities when they are perceived by others to be in the “wrong” one, according to research by a national newspaper, but they don’t address the safety concerns of women, who make up a far greater proportion of the population.

Women, who have to half-undress to go to the loo, are uncomfortable being in an enclosed space with strange men around. It leaves them particularly vulnerable, as it also does mothers with children.

On a more trivial level, can we trust men to put the seat down afterwards? Can we trust them not to wee all over the seat we women then have to sit down on? Yuk. No, thanks.

What it all comes back to is a lack of public facilities particularly for women. Women have long complained about this problem but they are not being listened to. I don’t think women are being consulted when new buildings are being designed or about existing public toilets. And I don’t think we are making enough noise about it.