Desperate visitors searching for somewhere to relieve themselves are causing a stink in a busy city centre spot.
Taxi drivers are flushed with anger and are calling for better toilet facilities during the night and early hours, after spotting people urinating in the shelter set aside for waiting customers in Park Lane, Sunderland, and nearby bushes.
With regard to toilet facilities in the city centre, it was considered that due to the proximity of a number of pubs and restaurants, as well as the Bridges Shopping Centre, there is adequate city centre toilet provision for the general public.Councillor Michael Mordey
Women and children have been among those they have seen taking a leak after struggling to find WCs close by.
Facilities in the bus station close at 7pm, but independent hackney driver representative Michael Young says they can be closed as early at 5.30pm, and then do not reopen until 7am.
Michael says he has raised the issue with the council, but has not been given a response, with MP Sharon Hodgson raising concerns on his behalf.
He said: “Taxi drivers are expected to work 24/7 and there are no facilities for us and people who come along on the coaches, the first thing they want to do when they get off is go to the toilet.
“People are urinating in Park Lane and near the rank.
“We’ve seen men, women and children doing it in the shelter and near the trees, and you can smell it.
“This is a public health problem and for safety reasons they reckon it’s because of violence and toilet damage issues.
“There are two security guards and it’s their job to keep order.
“It’s disgusting and we want people to keep coming back to Sunderland.”
Michael Morley, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for city services, said: “While we can find no record of any direct contact from Mr Young, we are aware of his concerns through correspondence received from his local MP, which was responded to on July 17, 2015.
“The public toilets at Park Lane Interchange are closed at 7pm given the resources available, with access to disabled toilets through a ‘Radar’ key outside of normal opening hours, in line with national practice.
“The current opening times were set following discussions with Nexus, who operate the interchange, and the police, taking into account previous public health, safety, vandalism and misuse issues in the late evening.
“With regard to toilet facilities in the city centre, it was considered that due to the proximity of a number of pubs and restaurants, as well as The Bridges Shopping Centre, there is adequate city centre toilet provision for the general public.
“Late opening hours are put in place when special events are taking place in and near the city centre, e.g. the airshow and the Christmas lights turn-on.
“The availability of toilets for use by the public is under constant review, taking into account security, cleanliness and cost.”
Radar keys are given to people to allow them access to 9,000 disabled toilets across the UK.