Labour block toilets at City Hall

A plan to create more public toilets at Tube and bus stations across the capital has been rejected by City Hall, despite most London Assembly members voting in favour of it.

By Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

A public toilet sign
Photo by Yena Kwon on Unsplash

A plan to create more public toilets at Tube and bus stations across the capital has been rejected by City Hall, despite most London Assembly members voting in favour of it.

The £20 million proposal, put forward by Green Party members at City Hall, attracted support from the Assembly’s Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups – meaning a majority of Assembly Members (AMs) were behind it.

It was voted down by the Labour group however, preventing it from achieving the required two thirds of support among AMs.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he would instead be willing to put funding aside for a feasibility study to explore the concept.

The proposed amendment to the Mayor’s budget was put forward at a meeting on Thursday by Green AM Caroline Russell, who said: “You all know the case for investing in more public loos for London.

“If we want London to be an inclusive city to visit, live and work in, then providing accessible toilets on the transport system is a basic necessity.”

The motion put forward by Ms Russell proposed spending £20 million from City Hall’s reserve funds, which she estimated would pay for 70 new toilets across the network, including six ‘Changing Places’ toilets for disabled people.

In a plea to her Labour colleagues to support the motion, Green AM Siân Berry said: “We know the money is there in reserves, we know that the Mayor is planning to use those reserves, we know we’re expecting press releases from the Mayor, so why should we as an Assembly not have a press release too, doing good for Londoners? People will absolutely appreciate that.

“I would just like to ask Labour – please don’t block these toilets just because the idea doesn’t come from the Mayor. This Assembly has its own job to do, and if you don’t do this, people will start to wonder what the point of Labour Assembly Members is. So please join us, do something fantastic to give Londoners real relief.”

Ms Russell’s motion received 14 votes in favour – coming from the Green, Conservative and Lib Dem groups – with the 10-strong Labour group voting against. The motion fell, as it needed two thirds to pass.

The proposal had been mentioned earlier in the meeting by Labour AM Len Duvall, who said to Mr Khan: “I want to hear your views of why we should resist certain amendments that come forward from the other political parties.

“At the previous budget meeting, we heard various amendments from different groups. There was one on toilets. One of the issues was it just seemed too vast – would it be appropriate to do a feasibility study to achieve that, before you commit to that sort of expenditure, what is your view?”

Mr Khan said: “TfL will undertake a feasibility study in relation to more toilets for the public being made available on the transport network.

“You’ll be aware of the progress we’ve made since I’ve been Mayor – not just for our bus drivers, which is really important – and not just in relation to those stations that are used just by the Tube, but other modes of public transport [too].”

The Mayor said that installing toilets was a more complex process than many recognise – something he had realised only after a programme of installing water fountains across the city.

He added: “Let me go away and do this feasibility study and see what progress we can make and I’ll report back to you in the Assembly in due course.”

Mr Khan said at another point in the meeting that he did not want to reduce the amount of money in City Hall’s reserves, because it was an important reason why City Hall had been awarded an AA credit rating, demonstrating the organisation’s fiscal prudence.

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