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The need for Public Toilets in Stokes Croft with longer Opening Hours… At the very least.

July 6, 2009

On Thursday afternoon Roy, who is caretaker of Elim’s sheltered housing on the corner of Hillgrove and Jamaica Street, alerted me to the fact that yet another fine specimen had been laid at his doorstep… A regular occurence. (See below).


The timing was perfect… Shortly afterwards I was due to meet with a group of the City’s “Movers and Shakers” down in the Bear Pit, to discuss how the area might be improved… I arrived at about 615pm, and wanted a piss: The toilets close at 6pm… Minutes later, two young men arrived, and pissed up the door of the Public Toilets in desperation… then Mark Wright, our Councillor for Cabot, arrived needing a piss… We both had to hold our bladders for the whole of the meeting… Ironic indeed.

The Bearpit loos are open from 8am-6pm Mon-Sat and for a few hours on Sunday…

Given that there are a high proportion of homeless, addicts and alcoholics in this area, it seems reasonable that provision of Public Toilets should have a greater priority than in other areas of the City.

Denise James, Project Managerof BCC Clean and Green was present, as was John Hirst of Destination Bristol, Mark Wright,  our Lib Dem Councillor. Cat Haigh of PRSC Planning Group, Damo, a homeless person, Pete Bullard of St. Paul’s Unlimited and a lovely lady from Green Spaces Strategy were there… By 7pm, we shared the space with no one else than a small group of street drinkers.

Much of the talk revolved around infrastructure.. It emerged that the Bear Pit cannot even be steam cleaned, because the drains are blocked, and there is nowhere for the water to run off… There is no money and we are facing spending cuts…

It seems to me that we must make the political case for more public spending in the areas that have been deprived of it for the longest time…

And it is also increasingly obvious that, while we can and will make cosmetic changes, if we are to make of Stokes Croft a positive and enriching experience for all, then we must find ways of engaging the homeless and the street drinkers, and offering routes out of their habits… It is no longer acceptable for us to have a policy of moving street drinkers and the homeless on without offering positive options. And it will never work to make our Public Spaces less inviting, as if this will act as some kind of  deterrent …

By following this path, we all lose…

As I left, one of the streetdrinkers offered me a fight, believing that I had betrayed him, believing that it was my intention to remove the chess table from Turbo Island…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2009 10:27 am

    I agree that the toilets should be open for longer hours but I can only imagine the resulting extra dirt and detritus. Not of course all created by the homeless people of Stokes Croft. Many so called up right citizens in the community have very dirty toilet habits even when not under the influence of mind altering substances.

    Would it be possible to encourage members of the PRSC to keep the toilets clean and sparkling. This being in the spirit of civic pride and involving the street people of the area in the maintenance of the locality.

    The cleaning of toilets is a basic humbling activity that none of us should shy away from. After all if you are at all a religious person which I am not, it has been said that ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’. The idea that cleaning toilets could result in godliness might appeal to those with ambitions beyond a life on the streets.

  2. stokescroft permalink*
    July 7, 2009 3:44 pm

    We do believe that the process of looking after your own civic space leads to a change in attitude. By picking up litter and sweeping the streets, we begin to take a kind of proprietorial pride in our public spaces. The same idea applies to the street painting tha we see throughout Stokes Croft. Increasingly , we see more care and better work. Every morning, for the last couple of weeks, Smiler who was formerly homeless and now lives locally, litter picks Turbo Island.

    I agreethat it would do us good to get involved in the most humbling of activities. We have wheelie bins, brooms etc. If you would like to get involved in setting up a voluntary local cleaning crew, let me know… I was in Winchester this week-end, and there is a large and voluntary cleaning crew that works to keep the streets tidy… Many pensioners seemed to be involved…

    Chris Chalkley

    • Typowriter permalink
      July 14, 2009 2:51 pm

      Residents picking up after themselves would be a good start. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to tidy up domestic waste.
      Residents lack of care for their surroundings encourages more mess.

  3. loocal permalink
    July 21, 2009 2:58 pm

    I agree something should be done about the use of public toilets near the bear pit… when i was about 8months pregnant I was walking through there absolutely bursting for a wee and the crotchety old cleaner was just locking the toilets up..I pleaded with her to let me go for a wee and she said NO and wouldn’t budge on it!!! I cant believe to this day that she could turn away a pregnant women. Toilets should be as accessible as water is to everyone living in a developed country, Especially for those living on the streets and all the preggas ladeez!

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