CONCERNS have been raised about the popularity of the town council’s recently refurbished unisex toilets on Marine Parade in Lyme Regis.
The town council spent £82,000 refurbishing the seafront toilets – £37,000 over its initial budget for the project – and converted the separate male and female blocks into unisex cubicles.
Concerns have now been raised that the unisex facilities are not popular with women.
The issue was raised at Wednesday night’s council meeting – the final meeting of the current council before Thursday’s local elections – when Councillor Brian Larcombe said there had been long queues for the toilets over the busy Easter Bank Holiday.
He suggested that men’s urinals be installed in space next to the existing toilets, currently used for bin storage, to ease pressure on the unisex cubicles.
Councillor Stan Williams added: “There’s no doubt, it’s the men’s side of it that’s a problem. They used to be in and out, now everyone has to go into a cubicle.”
Councillor Cheryl Reynolds commented: “I have talked to several people and the reason there’s a great, big queue for those toilets is that they’re the only decent ones we have. I think we have to look at that as well, and not just at the case that they’re unisex.”
The Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Michaela Ellis, agreed the queues were because they were “the nicest toilets in the area”.
However, Councillor Jeff Scowen said the facilities were unpopular with women.
He commented: “I said at the time that unisex was not the way to go and I’ve had a number of females say to me that they will not use those toilets because they’re unisex. It’s not what we want to do if we refurbish any more toilets in this town.
“They’re really not popular with many, many women and it’s pretty obvious why. If I was female I wouldn’t want to use them for a number of reasons. If we can’t convert them, let’s at least make them the only unisex ones in town.”
Councillor Elis replied: “As a female I would use them, and as a mother and grandmother with young children, it is so much easier.”
Councillor Larcombe said: “I too have had women residents and holidaymakers say they wouldn’t use them and they would rather find others. The more important point is that if the queues are about capacity, we increase the capacity by installing separate urinals. The cubicles can still be unisex.”
Councillor Reynolds replied: “There are three women here; myself, the mayor, and Adrianne [Mullins – administrative officer] and we would all use them. You always get someone saying they don’t like them but most women these days would use unisex toilets, they are all over the place.”