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WC causes confusion and congestion

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As local residents, we welcomed the upgrading of the public convenience described in 'Winchester's merciful relief' (aj 30.7.98). Not only relief, but architecture too, and certainly the result is a quality job with the big new window reflecting buildings. There's even a good view from the first-floor bridge - but should one loiter?

However, we do regret that the 'gents' is still upstairs as it was previously - not nearly as convenient as others in town, and not good for anyone who, though not 'disabled', might have some difficulty in climbing stairs (in a hurry?). The 'female overflow toilet' at first floor seems a well- kept secret since the only sign to the upper floor is to the gents. Moreover, the wc cubicles in the main toilets are far from generous, with little room to enter and close the door, clear of the wc pan. The entrances to both main male and female toilets become congested as people use the hand dryers (there are only two), queue for the wcs, enter and exit - some with children in tow.

Perhaps a flagship wc should have high-profile attendants (admirals?), but do they really need such a generous kiosk with its long shop-window display space and back fittings, as well as their office? In practice, this kiosk is mostly empty, with the window display filled with flower planters - and why not - plus a few tourist leaflets out of reach of the public. Is this a tourist information point or not? If it is, are the attendants trained for the job and is there a suitable place to ask their advice without blocking the entrance/ exit? The odd pack of cleaning material may sometimes be seen on the back fitting plus, of course, a few prominent coins by the narrow doorway. Should we expect to tip now, or do the currently disused barriers indicate future charges? At present the pivot door and locked turnstile just restrict access.

If this public toilet was to have such a thoroughgoing overhaul with new piles, steel frame etc, what a pity the chance wasn't taken to design a truly convenient building with better allocation of space.



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