An In-Convenience Truth

Westminster Council who aspires to become the most anti-social borough in London must be fearful that it is in danger of losing its ranking.

For not content with pursuing a regime of traffic enforcement that the Taliban would like to emulate, they now have turned their attention to a more basic function than motoring parking offences, namely reducing its provision of public toilets.

[O]ver the past few years public conveniences have been closing at an alarming rate, so critical has it become, that London Mayor Boris has even suggested that private shops and restaurants open their doors (so to speak) to facilitate the public’s needs.

Then recently under cover of darkness, in a clandestine operation, Westminster Council filled the public conveniences at Oxford Circus with concrete. But never mind they provide a text-based service providing you with all the information you need to find a toilet in their borough (80097 TOILET at a cost of 25p if you’re interested). I was told at 9.20 in the evening that I would have to walk best part of a mile from Oxford Circus to use one of their toilets.

The more charitable among you might presume that the time chosen to fill these toilets with concrete was so that drivers were not inconvenienced (sorry again about that) by the lorries. But I would remind you that Westminster Council now collects more income from parked cars than from taxpayers, so they are hardly car friendly.

The Council plans to provide a £5 million diagonal pedestrian crossing at this intersection modelled on the Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, ignoring the fact that, while Japanese assiduously cross a road at the designated points, in London jaywalkers are knocked down on a regular basis in Oxford Street, completely ignoring the correct crossing points.

Westminster City Council’s Cllr Danny Chalkley said while commendably keeping a straight face:

This new crossing, which will transform Oxford Circus and ensure visitors who emerge from the Tube are impressed by what greets them, is part of a whole series of improvements taking place to ensure the West End looks truly world class in time for 2012.

The developers hope to have the new crossing ready in time for the Christmas lights switch-on in November. It is just a pity no-one will be able to have a pee.

As a footnote, in 200 years time when archaeologists are excavating these Edwardian toilets they might be surprised to find mummified corpses down there encased in concrete, caught having their last ‘comfort stop’ before Westminster poured concrete down the staircase.

3 thoughts on “An In-Convenience Truth”

  1. I agree that disappearing toilets are a matter for concern. It is simply incompatible with a civilized society that people find it so difficult to satisfy a basic natural need when out and about in town.

    I need to “go” more frequently than the average citizen and have had to develop strategies to cope. For example, I have become quite blasé about walking into pubs and using the toilets without buying a drink (why store up more trouble for later?) and know to seek out the larger stores which usually toilets. Then there’s always good ole’ Starbuck’s but, beware: there’s often a queue for the toilet!

    I’m happy to pay 25p or 30p for the use of a clean, well-supplied toilet.

    People who ignore pedestrian crossings are not necessarily jay-walkers. They may be people who know the cavalier fashion with which motorists treat them. I have twice nearly been knocked down on a green man by vehicles illegally turning the corner and then having the gall to hoot at the crossing pedestrians. We learn how the crossing works and then make our own decision when to cross. It’s called survival.

    There will always be arguments over parking. Motorists want it while people like me, without a car, don’t want it. Parked vehicles choke the city and render it dirty and ugly as well as taking up valuable space and causing obstruction. I am happy to see it made harder and more expensive to park if this persuades more people to leave the car outside London. I would like to see cars banned altogether from town, never mind the piddling congestion charge.

    Someone who uses the bus and the tube for all travel has no sympathy for whingeing motorists.


  2. When you get to my age, toilets locations become near the top of my “Knowledge”.
    My unsolicited advice, choose your hotel with care.
    Don’t use 5 star hotels, too embarrassing.
    1 and 2 star hotels just don’t have public loos.
    Just swan into your Marriot or Novatel and voila.


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