The city council needs to invest more in repairing and replacing derelict public loos in Birmingham’s parks to encourage more visitors and healthier lifestyles, it has been claimed.
Out of 74 council-run parks and playing fields across the city, only 15 have working public conveniences, the council’s leisure watchdog committee was told.
Widespread vandalism and anti-social behaviour in park toilets has led to many being shut down in recent years.
It means that many large and popular parks, including Pype Hayes, Rookery Park, Cofton Park and Aston Park have no public facilities whatsoever.
Parks manager Robin Bryan said: “For some time it has become clear that stand-alone toilets have been a target for vandalism and at times encouraged inappropriate behaviour, particularly in sites where there is little or no supervision.”
Instead he explained the policy has been to maintain public loos next to other facilities such as cafes, sports pavilions and visitors centres where staff can watch over them.
And, at the moment, there are only plans to install fresh toilets at King Heath Park tea rooms and reopen a block at Banners Gate, Sutton Park - both parks where there are already toilets.
Perry Hall Playing Fields, which has had a portable loo block during the cricket season, will get a stand alone permanent block by its Walsall Road entrance.
Committee chairman Coun John Alden (Cons, Harborne) said: “We need more funding, not just the capital to build the toilets but revenue for revenue for maintenance and cleaning.
“Parks are wonderful places for people to exercise, take a walk and get away from the stresses of modern life. But they need the right facilities.
“They all used to have toilets, but now places like Rookery Park they are boarded up. The water and electric services are all there so we should be looking to bring them back into use.”
One suggestion that pay-as-you-use superloos, run by private suppliers, could be used was thought too expensive for the council to install.
The committee has demanded a further update on park toilets later this year as part of an over all review on park facilities in Birmingham.