Shared loos: Can you hold on a bit longer?

Women-only toilets not ready til next week

Friday, 29th April — By Isabelle Stanley

Ladies toilet and mural

The sign still says ‘ladies and gents’

THE Town Hall is facing calls to make good on its promise to reopen women-only toilets – amid no sign of change in Camden Town.

Camden said the changes to the under­ground conveniences at the foot of Parkway would be made a priority, and its promise was widely celebrated on social media.

The toilets have been mixed gender for a year, but the Town Hall acted after safety concerns were raised by women in the New Journal two weeks ago. Men will instead be directed to the Crowndale Centre.

The controversy followed a decision to close the men’s toilets in Camden Town during the Covid pandemic and then for an ongoing wait for repair work.

Sandra Louis told us last week about how her experience in the mixed loos had left her frightened, but when she reported it to the council, she never heard back.

She had been using the toilets with her 10-year-old stepson in September, when a man in the cubicle next to her started shouting, “I’m going to get you, I’m going to come up and get you.”

She reported the incident to the council, and then raised it again in January, but didn’t hear back either time.

Her story raised questions not only about the safety of the toilets, but the ability of the council to handle incidents.

Council leader Georgia Gould

When the New Journal took up her story, Cllr Georgia Gould said: “It is completely unacceptable that someone reported harassment and this wasn’t acted on. I have asked for an urgent investigation of what went wrong here.”

This week, Ms Louis said: “Out of nowhere [the council] phoned me on Friday, they were very apologetic and nice but they couldn’t account for why I hadn’t been replied to. They blamed about five different things – it sounded like a very panicky call.”

She added: “They said they thought my complaint might have gone to the wrong department by mistake. But wherever my complaint went it clearly required a reply.

“Then they kept reassuring me nothing’s ever happened in those toilets – and I just don’t believe it. I’m just glad it’s going back to women’s only. It feels safer for women in Camden. It was always about the safety – the style of those toilets does not lend itself to feeling safe at the best of times.”

A council press official said the return to women-only toilets was due to take place next week.

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