Being able to spend a pleasant penny could attract more tourists to Norfolk’s resorts

NNDC public toilet block at Runton Road, Cromer.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

NNDC public toilet block at Runton Road, Cromer.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

We can be prudish. In England, people dislike talking about lavatories. However, soon we may have no public lavatories to talk about. Saving the bog isn't the most glamorous of campaigns but it is a noble pursuit.

I fear until many toilets disappear, we might not take this seriously.

Have we got this wrong? Spending a pleasant penny could attract tourists to Norfolk's resorts!

Take this example. Tchaikovsky's music gently trickled out of the speaker, the genius of his creativity drifting across the air.

A stained glass window provided a kaleidoscope of calm colour. A waft of pleasant fragrance delighted my nostrils. Where was I?

I was standing in a public toilet in Edinburgh. I kid you not.

Surely this has to be the best bog in Britain. I recalled this experience when reading in my copy of the EDP that West Norfolk council were considering which toilets to keep open and which ones might close.

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Keeping public toilets open is a contentious issue as they can be very expensive and also greatly needed.

I sympathise with every council facing this unwanted predicament.

I've witnessed how hard councillors have fought to keep their local conveniences open.

This debate isn't confined to West Norfolk.

Other councils around the county have had to make similar hard decisions as our local authorities tighten their budgets.

In North Norfolk, many of the council's 39 dated WC blocks provide a huge challenge in terms of maintenance.

According to figures from the start of this year the budget to keep the facilities open was £675,000 annually.

But should we be looking at our toilets as an investment rather than a headache?

Back north of Hadrian's Wall that wonderful toilet in the Scottish capital is a tourist attraction in itself.

I have friends who consider the local facilities when picking days out. They avoid an area if the toilets are inaccessible.

Equally, they will go out of their way to visit locations where the facilities are good.

These discerning consumers are far more likely to come to our towns if we have clean and accessible local toilets. All tourist destinations want to wax lyrical about how good they are so why not promote wonderful toilets?

Maybe the great classics should be piped into all our public conveniences. Maybe we should see them as a marketing opportunity.

There are an increasing number of specialist user groups whose lives are adversely affected by the state of Britain's public toilets.

These include people with mental or physical disabilities and their carers, the infirm or elderly, people with babies or young children and people of all ages who are coping with a range of medical conditions.

This equates to a sizable percentage of the populous.

With our desire to increase our tourist footfall, could this be a marriage of convenience? If you forgive the pun!