Bristol City Council's cafe toilets scheme criticised

A scheme in Bristol to encourage cafes and restaurants to let members of the public use their toilets has been criticised by a coffee shop owner.

Bristol City Council wants businesses to volunteer for its Community Toilet Scheme and will list those who do as a free toilet location on its website.

Hamid Parast, owner of the Havana Coffee chain, said the council should compensate owners.

The council said the scheme helped businesses by increasing footfall.

Mr Hamid, whose restaurants are in Cotham and Clifton, described the scheme as "ridiculous" and said the council "needs to come back down to planet earth."

He said: "What the council has done the last few years is sell all their public toilets for next to nothing.

"Obviously come summer, with all the tourists, they want access to all the toilets and the council wants us to provide free toilets.

"It costs a lot to run a toilet and they don't compensate that."

A council spokesman said: "No council toilets have been closed for over three years and none are intended to be closed."

The scheme began about three years ago to provide more toilets for public use in addition to council-run facilities, and aid people with incontinence problems who were afraid to go out.

Some 20 businesses in the city are part of the scheme and the council recently conducted a new drive to encourage more to join.

The spokesman added: "Some businesses have found this a positive way to increase footfall and we decided to offer other firms the chance to take part.

"The scheme is entirely voluntary and we recognises that it would not suit every business."

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