£1 charge to spend a penny aims to solve Boatyard pub's toilet trouble
Published 19/07/2015 | 13:12
A riverside pub popular with tourists has started charging £1 for non-patrons to spend a penny after the owner got fed up with one too many blockages.
The Boatyard in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, is rated top of all the town's restaurants on TripAdvisor but its popularity - and its convenience - has apparently forced its owner's hand.
Manager Kurt Murray said on two occasions plumbers have had to be called out - at a cost of up to £400 - to unblock toilets.
"Would you believe it, we've had a pair of ladies' knickers flushed down there, and nappies," he said.
Mr Murray claimed the problem is deeper-seated in that there are not enough public toilets in the town, which often attracts thousands of tourists - especially on hot, sunny weekends.
Matters came to a head for the pub by the end of last summer when there were queues to use both of its single gents and ladies toilets.
Mr Murray said non-patrons were walking in off the street and costing the pub on average 46p per flush after electricity, toilet roll and hand soap was factored in.
The inside bar area only has space for a few dozen people, he said, but o utside the sun terrace can fit up to 150 people - with picturesque views to the River Severn below - so on the pub's busiest days there is even less room for non-payers.
Signs now clearly display the toilets policy, introduced at Easter, and they also point out the location of three other public conveniences in the town.
Mr Murray said other pubs and tea shops in the town have also started charging to use their facilities.
He said: "It gets extremely busy so our own customers are frustrated when non-patrons who are just visiting the town are just walking in, forcing our customers to wait.
"So the owner has put a £1 charge on, covering toilet paper, the flush, the electricity and the hand soap."
Mr Murray said the pub is not taking a hard-line approach and those who are desperate could be accommodated, however he added that action was needed.
"Our toilets are checked every hour, we've high quality hand soap and hand cream and our toilet paper is very good," he said.
"You find people who aren't paying customers are less likely to care and leave a mess in there.
"On top of that, our toilets are quite homely, particularly the ladies, but consequently we've had stuff walk out the door.
"We've had air fresheners, the hanging pictures, hand soap, and - especially in the ladies' toilets when the handbags come out - it just disappears."
Asked if the charge had reduced the amount of casual use, he replied: "It works."
He added: "It may have opened a can of worms, but this is a private business.
"It's up to the council to make sure there are enough toilets for the public."