Camden Council is looking to save £260,000 on public toilets. To do this it proposed closing toilet facilities at West End Green in West Hampstead, as well as those at Pond Square, Highgate and South End Green. As people protested that they might be caught short, the council asked local businesses if they would be prepared to allow the public to use their toilets.
Across Camden, 12 businesses have stepped forward, including Nando’s in West Hampstead, the Tricycle Theatre on Kilburn High Road, Streets Coffee (a new café on the Finchley Road) and the Abbey Community Centre.
Alan Hindson, manager of West Hampstead’s Nando’s confirmed the branch’s participation. He was aware of the scheme from his time managing the Kilburn restaurant, so was prepared when Camden asked about West Hampstead. He knows how inconvenient it can be when you are caught short when out shopping and said that people are already coming in with no problems, although the restaurant will monitor uptake over the next few months.
Camden is paying businesses £750 a year, which Alan felt will cover the costs. To indicate which businesses are taking part, Camden will also be supplying stickers, but there is nothing up at the moment.
The closure of the loos at West End Lane would be a particular problem for the 139 bus drivers who wait there. Although Nando’s does offer an alternative, it is not open 24 hours, so what bus drivers are supposed to do outside those hours is not clear.
Camden’s press office said that the council is “working on keeping all currently attended toilets open” but given that it is also trying to save £260,000 it looks like closure of the West End Lane toilets is one step closer.