PUBLIC toilets were the focus of a seminar held yesterday to discuss the potential of community toilets.

The focus of the seminar was the plans Maindee Unlimited have for transform the public toilets in Chepstow Road, Newport.

They are working closely with Newport City Council to discuss the future of the site, known locally as the ‘Maindee Triangle’.

The group’s chairman, David Moses, said the group decided to hold a seminar at Maindee Library to “learn more” should it take over the toilets.

Mr Moses said: “We want to improve our area and we’re doing that bit by bit.

“But if we want to take it on we want to regenerate them. For us to take on the toilets we need to be informed and know more about what will be involved.

John Hallam programme manager for Maindee Unlimited added: “The toilets were closed in March this year and they have been missed by local traders and visitors and so we are trying to understand more about the issues around public toilets.”

Hannah Williams, who lives in Maindee, said she hoped Maindee Unlimited would “take over the toilets”.

“They’re getting in a worse state by the day,” said Mrs Williams. “My partner came to the seminar and said he learned a lot.

“We’re convinced that the best way forward for the toilets is if Maindee Unlimited takes over.”

The day included speakers on topics including inclusive toilet plannning and accessible toilets. It also featured a panel featuring Kevin Ward from Newport Now Business Improvement District (BID), Dr Charles Musselwhite from Swansea University and Arts Council Wales project manager Ruth Essex.

Mr Ward said that in many cases business have to provide toilets for the public. He added that the private sector alone cannot be responsible for the provision and that the public sector has to have a role to play.

Dr Musselwhite added that many older people become isolated because of the lack of public toilets and that closing them may be short term monetary gain but leads to a long term loss.

A representative from Newport City Council was invited to speak on the panel but did not attend the event.

Mr Hallam said of the event: “We are lucky that we have had a diverse audience including local residents.

“The panel was a chance to bring some of the thinking together, not only about public toilets but about the future of public space.”