Edinburgh pubs face a new threat from City Council plans to restrict their capacity if they don’t have enough female toilets. Under new building regulations, pubs will have to provide one toilet for every 30 customers, and it is assumed that 50% of customers are female, even if in practice they are overwhelmingly male. If applied retrospectively, this could make many older pubs and bars which only have a single female toilet unviable, while newer, purpose-built venues will have no problem in complying, thus driving another nail into the coffin of the traditional pub.
Now, I accept that pub toilets often leave much to be desired, but surely this is going too far and ending up cutting off your nose to spite your face. On the Continent, provision of toilets often falls far short of British levels – I have been in one bar in Belgium that must have had a capacity of over 200, yet only had a sole unisex WC. Possibly the answer is for Edinburgh pubs to designate all their cubicles as unisex, although how well that would go down with punters is questionable.
And it is more than a little hypocritical for local councils to be insisting on lavish toilet provision by private businesses when they are under no legal obligation to provide an adequate number of public toilets themselves and indeed in most areas are busy closing them down left, right and centre.