Grasp this opportunity....

First published in Letters

Dear Editor,

I note, with regret, that the proposed closure of the Feidfair public toilet has happened and assume that Victoria Gardens toilet will also be closed.

As has been expressed by others, neither of these toilets are obvious candidates for closure. Victoria Gardens is a recreational area used by children (notorious for impatient bladders) and the nearest other toilets are too far to cope with pressing needs. The Feidrfair toilets were of great relief to those who had spent 90 minutes on a bus, and were also next to a car park for the convenience of day trippers (amongst others). It is hard to think of any public toilets in Cardigan that would be more greatly missed.

Similarly, the toilets adjacent to the Guildhall serve a car park. The Chancery Lane toilet is handy for the High Street, Pendre and the Chancery Lane car park.

In fact there are no public toilets in Cardigan that were not needed by at least one person. We see shop entrances modified to allow the passage of wheelchair users and nod approvingly that the disabled are catered for, yet there are those with disabilities which are not immediately visible (unless an accident happens): those with weak bladders and those with irritable bowel syndrome). Closure of any of Cardigan's public toilets will restrict the journeys that can safely be made by some people.

I realized the solution to the problem when I noticed a young women facing the wall of a building move away to reveal a young child and a puddle. We realize children sometimes have a problem and tolerate impromptu relief;

perhaps we could do the same for the other end of the age spectrum where bladders are often weak. But the elderly would feel an embarrassment that children rarely do. So it is necessary to think, not just outside the box, but also outside the cubicle. We should close ALL of Cardigan's public toilets and permit unrestrained voiding of bodily waste in the streets.

The elderly incontinent would then feel no embarrassment about this as everybody would have to do it. The police would not prosecute because to do so would clog the court system.

There would be many advantages, the obvious one being the elimination of council expenditures on toilets. It would open up parts of Cardigan formerly inaccessible to those with weak bladders or IBS who cannot venture far from public conveniences. Urine contains vital plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus whilst the fertilizing power of manure is legendary: encouraging people to use the concrete planters scattered around Cardigan would reduce the bill for plant food.

Some will object that such a move would adversely affect the tourist trade but, in fact, the opposite is true. There is a segment of the tourist market which visits third-world locations in order to revel in the primitive lifestyle of the inhabitants, but there is an even larger segment who would like to see primitive lifestyles but not THAT primitive and without the risk of being eaten by lions or being caught in the crossfire of a civil war. A town with a large selection of shops but no toilet facilities is the ideal compromise. Slight modifications to the "I love crabbing in Cardigan Bay" T-shirt on sale in a Cardigan shop (change "Bay" to "streets" and alter two letters in "crabbing") would encourage a flood of selfies on Facebook from tourists.

There are those who would argue that public conveniences exist not to protect public sensibilities but to prevent the spread of disease. It is true that closing all the public toilets would result in frequent epidemics of dysentery but that is exactly the excuse we need to retain Cardigan Hospital complete with beds.

Finally, the Council could gain a one-time injection of cash by selling the sites of the toilets to Tai Cantref who, I am sure, could build at least three houses on the Chancery Lane site alone.

We must not let this opportunity trickle through our fingers but should grasp it firmly with both hands.

Paul Allen, Napier Gardens, Cardigan

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