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GOING TO POT: Why lay-bys are turning into ‘waste’ lands

On September 7, 2017, in Toilets, by PeterSilverman
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Truckers’ Toilets – Gillian Kemp explains what her campaign is all about

INTRODUCTION

It was very sad to recently read that ‘England is a litter-ridden country’.  Unfortunately leaving a place in a mess, attracts more mess.  This mess is not just of the paper variety but frequently includes human waste deposited in a bottle or a bag.  The rap for much of the detritus in laybys is frequently laid at the cab doors of our lorry drivers who are forced to park off the road after a statutory number of driving hours

WHY LAYBYS?

Laybys are often the only available parking on our road networks although very few laybys have toilet facilities or even a litter bin.  Whilst truckstops and motorway services provide facilities, there is the problem of distance from one stop to the next and general availability.  Closures of many truckstops are leaving drivers even more concerned about where they can take their breaks.  Little is being done to improve the situation which raises a real dilemma when drivers need the toilet.

Everyone needs a loo several times a day yet this basic human need is consistently ignored by Government and the haulage industry.  Office based workers have, by law, access to toilets but mobile workers do not enjoy such privileges.  At night with the reduction in truckstops and lorry parks it is increasingly difficult for drivers to find suitable safe parking areas due to the size and weight of the vehicles.  Understandably the use of residential roads is not popular with local communities.  With so little choice available drivers resort to parking in laybys which are noisy, unsafe and lack toilets.

DOGS ARE MORE IMPORTANT!

In theory any mess should be gathered up by the user and disposed of appropriately.  However when it comes to human waste there is a natural instinct going back centuries to leave it far away from eating and sleeping areas.  The cab is the driver’s workplace and for some it is also their ‘home’ for overnight stays therefore carrying human waste – even if well wrapped – is unpleasant in such a small space.  There are few litter bins in laybys and whether it is appropriate to dispose of human waste in the same bin as other litter is open to debate – dog waste has its own waste bin!  Whether waste is left on the ground at a layby or in a bin someone has to clear up and make suitable arrangements for disposal.

HEALTH

The lack of toilet facilities affects the health and welfare of our lorry drivers.  With no toilets available when needed, drivers have to ‘hold on’ which can lead to a reduction in concentration and possible kidney problems.  To avoid needing a toilet some drivers reduce their fluid intake, another dangerous practice, but the lack of interest in providing toilets for drivers is encouraging this behaviour.

The needs of women drivers are also ignored.  They have to cope with menstruation and the menopause in unhygienic surroundings.  This is totally unacceptable yet campaigns continue to encourage more women into an industry where they will be forced to use the ‘fifth wheel’ or find the nearest bush.

The lack of basic facilities encourages the use of the layby as a toilet.  One cannot heap 100% of the blame onto the drivers.  Having to use a bucket in a cab on a regular basis is degrading and unhygienic.  An improvement in working conditions must take place before even more drivers hang up their keys.

RESPECT

TTUK has offered several suggestions to various working parties and organisations over the last 5 years but to date very little has happened. Fining those caught using a layby as a toilet when there are no alternatives is wrong.  The cost of provision and the concern over misuse of any facilities provided has been a constant negative factor but the cost to improving the health of a workforce on whom we rely should surely be a priority.  Drivers have been forced to use laybys and they are being damned as a consequence.  Surely in the 21st century we should respect our drivers enough to provide clean, well maintained toilets and care enough to offer the privacy, safety and dignity they deserve?

 

Gillian Kemp
5 September 2017

 

 

Gill began her career in education and law and has also worked in the media. She is the founder of Truckers’ Toilets UK www.facebook.com/TTUKcampaign and founder of Public Toilets UK www.facebook.com/PTUKcampaign  – both are facebook campaigns which aim to improve toilet provision in the UK.  She is also Co-Founder of the Toilet Consortium.  Gill has been involved with the British Toilet Association [BTA] for a number of years and has given evidence on the effects of public toilet closures to the Health & Social Care Committee at the Welsh Assembly.  On behalf of the BTA Gill has chaired a joint venture with Hertfordshire Constabulary to revise a booklet on reducing vandalism in publicly accessible toilets.  She has recently edited another booklet on public toilet facilities and has written a number of articles on toilet related issues.    Gill is a Founder Director of an international medical equipment manufacturing company

 

 

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