We’ve all been there before. Wading our way through a busy high street, heavy bags of shopping hanging from virtually every limb. Resisting with every fibre of our being to go into any shop ever again.
Drinking copious amounts of coffee just to live through the experience. And just when the end looks near, mercifully near, you realise your bladder is precisely two minutes and thirty seconds from exploding.
You search, frantically, for a public loo. Sometimes you spot what looks like salvation, only to discover the facility boarded up. You look one way, then another. Tears form at the edge of your eyes. You decide there’s nothing for it.
You lurch into the nearest shop and, like a naughty schoolboy, briefly pretend to browse their produce with one eye, whilst urgently spying their loo with the other. You find it, and sprint towards it with all the subtlety of a Soviet shot putter.
When the penny is spent, you keep your head low and make for the exit. Hoping, praying that some eagle eyed shop assistant hasn’t spotted you. Dreading the, “can I help you sir?” spoken loudly, in a disapproving tone.
My friends, it need no longer be like this. This week, major retailers such as Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Borders have signed up to my ‘Open London’ scheme. The aim is to increase access to public toilets. No longer will you need to create an elaborate subterfuge just to use their facilities. I hope many other businesses will follow the example set, and welcome you with open arms.
Indeed, if you are reading this and you own a shop, café or pub then I implore you to go to our website and sign up to the scheme.
Public toilets have been disappearing from our high streets and town centres at an alarming rate, and this most affects the elderly and those with young children. My ambitions for this scheme are that this trend is reversed.
When I was elected, I promised to focus on improving quality of life for all Londoners. Letting people know where they can use the toilet, and encouraging businesses to open their facilities to the public, will make our city a more civilised and pleasant place to live.
As I said to the retailers who signed up to the scheme; let them spend a penny, and they will spend a pound- thus improving quality of life and the economy!
P.S. I was in Chingford last week visiting local businesses and meeting residents. Watch the video here.