IMPROVEMENTS to public toilets in Monmouthshire include providing sanitary bins for men and ensuring that a wider range of people can use them. 

Welsh councils are required to produce a local toilet strategy, but that doesn’t mean they have to maintain public toilets, but rather places a duty on them to “take a strategic view on how publicly accessible toilets can be provided and accessed”. 

In Monmouthshire, the county council has updated its strategy, first produced in 2019, and is addressing how to ensure a wider range of people can use them and have the security of knowing they are available should they need the toilet while out in public. 

In December the full council agreed to support the ‘Boys Need Bins’ campaign to place sanitary bins in male toilets to cater for health conditions, including prostate cancer, and it is also consulting on how the county can be an ‘Age Friendly Community’.

It also says the provision of free, accessible public toilets would help it achieve that aim. 

David Jones, the county council’s head of public protection, said it is currently reviewing provision of bins in its toilets and there are some without any at all. 

He said: “We need to ensure we’ve got some provision. Disabled toilets and ladies I suggest would be a priority.” 

Abergavenny bus station public loos
(Jaggery Creative Commons)

He added that the council is “at the start of a journey” of providing sanitary bins in its male toilets, and he said town and community councils have been keen to discuss if they could share costs with the county council for collecting the waste from the bins. 

The council has also been working to make its toilets ‘Stoma Friendly’ – so that people who use a stoma bag can easily change them. 

The council has previously said people with a stoma should request a RADAR key, which allows access to all disabled toilet facilities, as they provide more space.

But to meet the standard, it has also checked that mirrors, hooks and shelving are provided in disabled toilets in 12 of the traditional 18 public toilets blocks across the county.  

Where blocks don’t have a separate disabled toilet, mirrors, hooks and shelves have been provided in both male and female facilities.

Signage is also required to be achieve ‘Stoma Friendly’ status. 

Changing Places toilets, which have greater room and facilities such as hoists, are also provided at Monmouth Leisure Centre and work is due to be completed at Chepstow Leisure Centre as well. 

Caldicot and Abergavenny leisure centres are “slightly” too small to be officially recognised, but are considered, by the council, to be of a good standard, while the Bridges Centre in Monmouth and Mencap building in Chepstow also have Changing Places toilets. 

The Melville Centre toilets in Abergavenny are also due to be upgraded following the decision to base a support service for adults with learning disabilities there. 

Labour councillor for Abergavenny Tudor Thomas said he would welcome that, as the centre “is within walking distance of Tesco”. 

An interactive Wales wide map, showing where public toilets can be found and when they are open, has also been updated.

The committee was told some information related to Monmouth was incorrect, which Mr Jones said would be corrected now the council is able to update the map itself rather than relying on a Welsh Government agency. 

The committee said they also wanted single sex toilets to still be available, as the council considers unisex provision when any future changes are made to toilet blocks.

It was suggested a working group could also be established.