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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Nowhere To Go

News broke last week that Manchester City Council is axing all but one of its public toilets and reducing bin collections. The council pleads it has no option owing to the savage government cuts. Now the cleanliness ofour public streets in not just a matter of civic pride, but of public health. Before the 1850s, when the first public loos appeared in Britain, city streets were ‘temples of pollution’, as the Victorians coyly put it. Granted that cuts have to be made, are there really no other areas which can be slashed without inconveniencing the elderly, infirm and people with young children? Or, if they are expensive to run, why not charge more for using them? When we go on holiday to Scotland, there is a small charge to use the public toilets, but they are usually immaculate.

Also, the north-west of England, with its important history and heritage, is marketed as a tourist destination. It’s not a great way of welcoming foreign visitors to Manchester, is it? If tourists don’t understand they can make use of café facilities, they will have nowhere to go.

Images: A corporation dustcart and the arms of Manchester. Manchester Old and New Vol.I, Cassell & Co, c.1894.

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