Amid warnings of a public toilet crisis with more than half of all facilities in the UK closed down, Northallerton Town Council has opened new toilets in the centre of the High Street.

The council has built the new toilets on the ground floor of the Grade II listed town hall. After months of work and preparation, the toilets will now be open from 8am to 3pm, Monday to Saturday with extended opening on Wednesdays and Saturdays for the weekly market. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: New public toilets have opened in Northallerton Town Hall

They will also be open for town centre events such as the Farmers Market. The toilets include three female cubicles, three male cubicles and one accessible toilet with changing facilities.

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The council say there will be no charge, although people will be able to make a donation towards their upkeep. The current Town Hall toilets, which are largely upstairs in the town hall with one disabled access cubicle downstairs, will remain open while the council reviews their use.

Darlington and Stockton Times: New public toilets have opened in Northallerton Town Hall

Deputy Mayor, Paul Cornfoot said, "We know that there is a significant demand for public toilets on Northallerton High Street from the on-line survey we commissioned in 2021 as well as much anecdotal evidence.

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“This is a very important project for the town council, and we have worked hard over the last two years to secure funding and make it happen. Having good quality public toilets is an important aspect of making a visit to the High Street a comfortable and enjoyable experience, thereby helping to keep the High Street modern and vibrant and enable Northallerton to maintain its ‘coach-friendly’ status."

Darlington and Stockton Times: New public toilets have opened in Northallerton Town Hall

Mayor Cllr Phil Eames added: "The British Toilet Association has estimated that half of public toilets in the UK have closed in the past ten years. We are very proud to be able to say that Northallerton is bucking that trend and re-establishing an important public service. We are pleased our new facility is now open and thank everyone involved for making the project possible."

Because the Town Hall buildings is Grade II listed, the existing windows on the toilets have been temporarily laminated to provide privacy inside. However, the council is planning to provide a more decorative style of laminate that will be able to show local images or art.

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Raymond Martin, managing director of the British Toilet Association, said it is estimated that the UK has lost 50 per cent of its public toilets in the past decade, and the situation has deteriorated since Covid with many which were closed down not reopening. This has led to concerns of "wild toileting'"causing a nuisance in some towns.

The association is putting pressure on the Government to make sanitation and hygiene a major priority and support local authorities to stop the closures, open new facilities and establish a new set of standards of hygiene and cleanliness. But there is currently no legal requirement in place to force local authorities to provide or run public toilets.

In Northallerton underground toilets in the High Street were closed many years ago with the final public toilets in the Applegarth car park closed by the former Hambleton council to make way for a coffee shop.