Councillor Pancho Lewis, Labour’s Councillor for the West End, has written to senior Westminster Council officers demanding that Carlisle – the private organisation owned by Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft which runs pubic toilets in the City of Westminster – is held to account for its poor performance.
Councillor Lewis says there are many failures which have been documented recently.
- Toilets in Westminster are regularly closed without notice. Some days, toilets might be closed the whole day, shut early, or not opened up until late – even though it specifies clearly in Carlisle’s contract that they must remain open during agreed stated hours.
- The toilets are often left in a very dirty condition, deterring the public from using them. They often aren’t maintained properly.
- In Broadwick Street toilets are regularly closed without notice. This has an impact because this part of Soho is heavily visited by members of the public, and market traders on Berwick Street have to use private premises to use toilets.
- Access to toilets is a public good and a public right. In effect, under current provision, you often have to pay to use a toilet, by entering a pub or a cafe. Vulnerable groups, like street homeless people, are left without access to toilets.