London mayor backs scheme to tackle toilet shortage

London businesses could get grants for letting the public spend a penny on their premises.

Mayor Boris Johnson called on the capital’s business to open their toilets to the public in order to ease the problems caused by a shortage of public lavatories.

Under the Community Toilet scheme, participating London councils give small grants to pubs, cafes and shops which let passers by use their loos for free.

Johnson urged more councils to sign up to the scheme. But in the long term he said the government should provide funding for more public toilets.

Since 1999 London has seen the steepest decline in the number of toilets owned and run by its councils.

The scheme began in Richmond in 2005.

Pamela Holmes, head of healthy ageing at charity Help the Aged, said: “Toilet humour might be funny – but not being able to go out due to a lack of public toilets is a daily reality for more than half of older people. With social isolation becoming an increasing and very real problem, it’s great that the Mayor is urging councils in the capital to take a lead by making it easier to access toilets. Help the Aged has called for a change in the law to make it a duty for local authorities to provide more toilets in public places.”