Wales' public toilet help 'to be made law'

Public toilet
Image caption AMs say the provision of good public toilets is a public health concern

People needing to spend a penny in Wales could soon find extra help is at hand, from councils.

A new draft law by the Welsh government will put the responsibility on local authorities to make sure there are enough public toilets.

They would be required to assess, regularly review, and meet the local demand for the conveniences.

The new duty will be in a draft law setting out measures aimed at improving public health.

If passed, it is thought it could be the first duty of its type to be introduced in the UK.

It would apply to all toilets owned by local authorities, including those in libraries and sports halls.

Tougher controls

Last year the British Toilet Association estimated that there has been a 40% drop in the number of public toilets across the UK in the last 10 years.

Older people's charities have long argued that cuts to public toilet provision have had a big impact, especially on older and disabled people who they claim can be left afraid of venturing out of their homes.

In March 2012 the assembly's health and social care committee published a report which claimed there was a "strong public health case for better public toilet provision".

AMs heard evidence that often public toilets were difficult to find or not open when needed, and that facilities did not meet their needs and were unclean and unsafe.

Health minister Mark Drakeford told the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales: "We know that if people are not confident that they will have the facilities they need then it has a distorting effect on their lives.

"They stay at home when they would like to go out. They don't take tablets that they need to take in order to be able to go out.

"And for older people, people with some mental health conditions, people with young families and children, the fact that they need to be confident that there are proper facilities that they can use if they want to be out in our society is a genuine public health issue."

"In an age of austerity the answer simply cannot be find more money for it. what we have to do is be more imaginative."

Tattoo parlours

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Media captionSarah Rochira said public conveniences are 'assets we need to preserve'

BBC Wales also understands the new public health draft law will seek to introduce tougher controls on staff and premises offering cosmetic procedures - such as tattoo parlours or clinics carrying out cosmetic piercing, acupuncture and electrolysis.

Business providing these services will be required to meet minimum hygiene and infection control standards and be listed in a new register for Wales.

Practitioners would need to pass a test to join the register.

The law, if passed, also requires them to explain risks to customers before any procedures are carried out, and to offer adequate after care advice.

The aim, according to a Welsh government source, would be to offer both staff and customers greater protection.

Some councils already operate voluntary registers.

The white paper sets out the Welsh government's proposals for legislation which will be consulted on.

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