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News from BOPF Chair – 12 March 2021

Here is the letter I wrote to Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees about public toilets on 11 March 2021.

Dear Marvin

I wrote to you in June last year on behalf of Bristol Older People’s Forum asking that the safe reopening of public toilets was treated as a priority. I attach a copy of my letter below.

I remain very concerned about the lack of toilets available to the public, and the impact that can have on all age groups, but particularly on the health and well-being of older people and those with underlying health conditions.

My concerns were compounded when I read this recent article in the Bristol Post, which you have probably already seen:

As I said in my last letter to you, a lack of public toilets can affect the confidence of older people, making them more reluctant to venture out for their daily exercise, and hence increasing their sense of isolation. It is all very well the Council saying that people should ‘plan their outdoor time accordingly’, but that is very difficult to do if there are no toilets available locally.

I appreciate that things should improve somewhat once we come out of Lockdown, and toilets in certain cafes, restaurants and other venues, become available again to the public.

However, I ask again that this issue is treated as a priority. It is not just about people being ‘caught short’, it can seriously affect the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Best wishes.


Ian Bickerton
Chair, BOPF


Letter sent on 14th June 2020

Dear Marvin

I am writing to you on behalf of the Trustees of Bristol Older People’s Forum about the reopening of public toilets in the city.

I see in the latest BCC Coronavirus Newsletter that you are currently assessing with the police how and when public toilets could be reopened safely.

We fully appreciate that this is not straightforward and public safety must be of paramount importance to ensure that the virus is not spread into the community. We have already seen the dire consequences of the virus over recent months and the resulting huge death toll nationally, particularly of older people.

We would however ask that the safe reopening of public toilets is treated as a priority. We know that many older people, including those who are isolated, are very nervous about venturing any distance outdoors until they know that public toilets are available. This is compounded of course as toilets in cafes and many other venues are also shut.

It is clearly very important for the mental and physical health of older people, and indeed all age groups, that they can feel confident about going out, having been in lockdown for so long. The current closure of public toilets only adds to that sense of isolation that people can feel.

These recent letters to The Guardian, which you may have seen, highlight the issue:

It would therefore be very helpful if you could give some indication of when you think public toilets will reopen.

Best wishes.

Ian Bickerton
Chair, BOPF

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