Council warns over open spaces being used as toilets – but is it time to reopen the town’s public facilities?

People are urinating and defecating in the town’s open spaces and beaches and yesterday the borough council called for it to stop.

“We have had reports of people using our open spaces and beaches as toilets,” a blunt statement issued yesterday by the council said.

One of those reports was from one of its own councillors, John Rankin, who published a photograph on social media (that we will not republish here) which appeared to show human excrement floating in one of the municipal waterways on the seafront.

Hastings Borough Council continues to vigorously promote the message that the town is ‘closed’ and that visitors should not consider coming here.

“This is not acceptable behaviour and is not justified by the toilets being closed,” the council’s statement went on, “Clearing up this mess takes our cleansing team away from other vital work and puts them at risk.”

In his post Mr Rankin said: “I know the sea front toilets are closed but this is unacceptable in a crazy golf course.”

Responding to Mr Rankin’s post Nicholas Davies said: “I think if people behave like dogs they ought to be treated like animals. Disgusting.”

It’s opened a debate as to whether public toilets around the town – closed as part of the measures to protect the public from Covid-19 infection – should be reopened, East Sussex County Councillor Godfrey Daniel thinks they should and says : “Surely it’s time to reopen the public toilets? People who live in Hastings need toilets!”

The latest message from Hastings Borough Council!

But former Mayor and Hastings Borough Council (HBC) cabinet member Judy Rogers is clear: “The message still stands that Hastings is closed.”

But Al Hay tells Ms Rogers: “Come and spend five minutes around the big scaffolding at the end of George Street! You need to open the toilets. This isn’t good for the health and living standards of residents.”

Kevin Burchett says: “Make all the takeaways and the kiosks close, then shut the beaches and go back to a proper lockdown then they wouldn’t be pooing and peeing everywhere would they?”

Sam Clee says: “It is so frustrating that HBC is taking this approach. People clearly need to leave the house during the pandemic, and as advised by central government they should be, to exercise.

“There is also no ban on travel now despite HBC’s independent position on taking the stance that the town is closed – it isn’t, people can travel to the town freely… Other councils have kept public toilets open for residents and visitors alike, Tunbridge Wells for example, as it is so obvious that the alternative is people having to use the beach etc. How can this possibly be preferable to using the toilets?”

Councillor Rob Lee who leads the Conservative opposition group on HBC is clear, he wants to see the toilets opened and Joanna Giles adds: “People with hidden disabilities, children and the elderly simply cannot wait till they get home. Also what about the homeless? Things are hard enough for them as it is. Seriously think about who this affects please.”

A statement from central government at the end of May clearly put the the decision on when to reopen public toilets in the hands of local councils, a statement from the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “While decisions to reopen public toilets are for councils, we strongly encourage them to open wherever possible.

“We’ve published guidance to help them ensure facilities are safe where they are open including increasing cleaning of touch points.”

Last night in her weekly video to the people of Hastings, council leader Kim Forward said the council is reviewing it position of the reopening of toilets – and other amenities – on a weekly basis, she said: “We are sticking to our message that Hastings is closed to visitors as we want to keep our infection rate as low as possible. The number of visitors is considerably lower than we would normally expect over such a sunny period. We are reviewing our policy on the closure of amenities and toilets on a weekly basis.”

Lack of toilet facilities affects those with serious conditions like Crohn’s Disease but also has an impact on pregnant women, young families and those who work outside or travel, lorry drivers for example.

While last night’s social media message seemed to be overwhelmingly in favour of Hastings reopening its public toilets there were those who were more cautious who asked how effectively the toilets could be cleaned and the potential risk to those doing the cleaning.

Tell us what you think by using the comment facility below.

13 thoughts on “Council warns over open spaces being used as toilets – but is it time to reopen the town’s public facilities?

  1. The toilets need to be re opened as soon as possible. People are out and about and when they need to go To the toilet they need to go so pointless moaning about people using other places. Just open the toilets and provide hand sanitizer

    1. All or nothing. If Hastings including toilets is closed there has to be a method of policing incomers to the town. Tourists are still coming and pissing and shitting everywhere so where is the good in that for public health?

  2. Under new government guidelines, Hastings is not closed to visitors, and no amount of saying it is will make any difference. The council should do its job for visitors and locals alike, and stop shirking its duty. People will have to go where they can, and they will litter.

    1. I think the toilets need reopening as there are too many people now milling around although maybe a couple of toilet attendants should be employed to make sure they are not overcrowded and washed down after each use this should stop the animals defacating on the beach and keep toilets fresh and clean

      1. I agree Whitstable toilets and tankerton toilets are open. It doesn’t seem responsible to keep them shut. I know that people will remember the action taken by those to keep them closed. It’s a national crisis and it shows the true colours of Hastings council against the local residence. I know my vote is in favour of opening

  3. Of course the public toilets should be re-opened. People have to go whether they are local or not. The risk of Covid 19 is real, but so is the risk of bacteria/viruses spread in excrement which is deposited where it shouldn’t be.

  4. Living in the town centre I have encountered hundreds of people urinating. I have seen a woman doing worse! Not just homeless but people out for the day. I agreed with the toilets being closed until Boris said everyone could go out for as long as they want. That’s exactly what some people are doing, and have to use a toilet. The town, seafront, and many other places stink! It’s unhygienic! What more can I say? Open the toilets to clean up our town .

  5. Well said Susan Gilbert. Yes this is a public health issue and the toilets should be open. They are rare enough in Hastings at best. Remember the one downtown now demolished with HBC’s intention of building a new restaurant as it was considered too expensive. My point being these facilities are not exactly at the top of the council’s priorities.

  6. Hastings Borough Council closed the toilet in the town centre claiming that there were alternative facilities within shops such as Debenhams. Debenhams are keeping their toilets closed in spite of being open to the public so there are no alternative facilities for people out shopping. The government wants people to have some sort of normality and for businesses to be able to trade and to recoup some of their losses but HBC is not helping the issue by keeping public toilets closed.

  7. We are desperate for toilets to open. They are essential and we cannot now do our long walks from Bo peep to the fish market and back until they are. It is insulting to Blair people who are made to relieve themselves in inappropriate places because of this bad decision.

  8. Covid -19 we are on top of.
    With the use of side alleys, behind buildings etc… We will all go under with Cholera, Typhoid…especially in this heat!!

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