Lack of public toilets in Sheffield city centre 'sends people to Meadowhall or Crystal Peaks instead' - says elderly shopper
A Sheffield couple was left thinking ‘where are we going to go?’ after department store and public toilet closures mean the city centre has been left with limited options for shoppers and tourists.
Alan Turner and wife Pauline say the lack of facilities not only puts off elderly shoppers, wheelchair users and parents with babies and prams, but will deter visitors to the city centre, and believe it will just force people to Crystal Peaks or Meadowhall shopping centres instead.
Alan, who is 78, said: “I am 79 in a few months so getting around town is a slow job anyway, but we used to be able to go to Cole Brothers, John Lewis, when we went to Nationwide – but of course that is shut now, cafes and bars were closed when we went, and the Town Hall toilets are now shut. So it left us thinking, ‘where are we going to go?’
Alan and his wife Pauline ended up visiting Marks and Spencer on Fargate and using the toilet facilities there, but Alan says retail businesses should not be the sole providers of the facilities in the city centre, and that the council should offer more choices.
"Should the council be relying on retailers to provide toilet facilities for the general public?” Alan asks.
"Surely for a city this size, I know we have one in the Moor Market, and one on pond Street, but there used to be one in Orchard Square but its closed, and the Town Hall.
“If you were a tourist, or a visitor to Sheffield I just don’t think it’s adequate enough for them.
"The council are not doing themselves any favours, because out of town shopping centres, such as Crystal Peaks and Meadowhall, their toilet systems are still working – so come on Sheffield, get yourself together.”
“We went to Crystal Peaks and it was full of people, and easier to get around, but Sheffield was like a ghost town.”
Alan, who lives in Todwick, now says heading into town has become a ‘consideration’ rather than a definite, and that it is not just older people who are concerned.
"It is a consideration to go in anymore. They would probably argue there are ones on the Moor, but I’m 79-years-old.
"Walking from the top of town down to the market is hard. There’s no facilities for women with pushchairs, or people in wheelchairs, or with buggies. I think it is shocking.
"The council will argue they do not get funding for it, but at the end of the day, it’s about welcoming people to Sheffield.”
Ben Brailsford, head of city centre, parking and CCTV at Sheffield Council, said: “Whilst there are currently no plans to open new public toilets in the city centre, we do have initiatives in place in the city centre such as free access to toilets in the Moor Market. Sheffield BID’s LAVS (Lavatory and Ablution Venue Scheme) also encourages local businesses to allow members of the public to use their facilities.
“Temporary toilets were trialled next to the Peace Gardens to support retail reopening last year, but the usage was low throughout this time. We aim to offer access to toilet facilities wherever possible, including in our parks, and we will continue to monitor and review the needs of those visiting our centre.”