Traders fear shoppers will be put off coming to their town after a public toilet block was demolished. The facilities off Butterfield Place, Tunstall, had been a magnet for rough sleepers, drunks and drug addicts.
But businesses are concerned that pensioners will be less likely to visit the town in case they are caught short. The only alternative facilities currently available are at the Asda supermarket, in Scotia Road, around five minutes’ walk away.
Oasis Travel co-owner Andy Dean, 46, said: “It’s a joke them knocking them down because there’s nowhere for anybody to go. It’s one thing after another with all the shops that have closed. Getting rid of the loos is a bad idea.”
Fellow co-owner Heidi Evans, 48, says the lack of toilets would put her off bringing her elderly mother to Tunstall.
The 48-year-old said: “I wouldn’t be able to bring my mum up here if there were no toilets because she wouldn’t be able to walk to Asda, so that’d be an issue for her. So unless the market was open I wouldn’t bring my mum up here shopping.
“She won’t come to Tunstall if there’s no toilets. It’s not considerate to the older generation, not considerate at all.”
Sheree Winter, of Hamiltons Jewellers, also fears for Tunstall’s future. She said: “You can’t just run in a pub or somewhere if you’re taken short – we need some public loos.
“If people are travelling, say, over an hour – if you get off the coach, you want a cup of tea and to go to the toilet. It’ll be worse for the elderly and disabled. There’s no toilets inside the market – different markets, such as Hanley, have toilets inside the market, but I know they haven’t got any in [Tunstall Market]. I go in there regularly. There’s a cafe in there but no toilets – the two go hand in hand really.”
She added: “There isn’t much here in Tunstall any more. It’s the same with the market, there aren’t many stalls open now at all. Most of the shops round here are closed or closing.
“We used to have a Pound Shop here, we used to have the Cool Trader – both of them have gone.
“Now you’ve got to walk down to Asda to use the loo, and if you’re disabled or elderly it’s a fair jaunt. Then you’ve got to walk back if you’re up this end of the town.”
Visitors to Tunstall have also raised concerns about the toilet demolition.
Diane Jones, 63, said: “You just knew they were there and you could pop in if needed. Whereas now you’ve got to make your way to somewhere like Asda or further.
“I think they’ll be missed – very much so, especially for people who need them. It wouldn’t put me off [coming to Tunstall] but I’d have to know I was somewhere where there’s a toilet. If you’ve got a medical condition it’s quite daunting really, especially for older people as well.
“I think Tunstall is becoming a ghost town like Burslem, it used to be full but it’s terrible now. It’s sad really.”
Kelly Whatwood, 33, added: “I’m always dying to go to the toilet. “If you’re desperate, you need them close. I don’t like coming to Tunstall, it’s a mess. They need to build some new, nicer toilets that don’t smell.”
A statement submitted as part of Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s application to demolish the toilets said: “The toilet block requires demolition because it attracts anti-social behaviour, particularly drug taking and rough sleeping, is difficult to maintain and is beginning to show signs of age. It will be replaced by toilets within the Market Hall that will be easier to regulate and maintain to a high standard.”