A CITY centre shop in York has closed its toilets for a refurb.

Marks and Spencer in Pavement in York city centre has closed its toilets for a refit meaning the frequently used facility on the third floor is out of action and people are having to 'spend a penny' in public toilets.

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Signs on the shop doors in Parliament Street and Pavement say: 'Excuse us while we change - we've closed the toilets while we get the new toilets ready' alerting people to the closure and staff are on hand inside the store reinforcing the message.

M&S Pavement toilet closures in YorkM&S Pavement toilet closures in York (Image: Haydn Lewis)

As The Press has previously reported, there have been long standing issues with vandalism and drug misuse at nearby city centre public loos, and last year council chiefs said there had been a “considerable amount” of anti-social behaviour over the past year.

Some public toilets had been broken into, temporarily closing them, while locks are glued shut in others and cash stolen from the machines. The facilities at Union Terrace are among the worst hit.

Director of environment, transport and planning James Gilchrist said at the time the council had been working with the police to try to tackle vandalism and drug misuse, with “high profile” arrests recently having been made.

He added: “I do feel for some of the staff that have to work in those facilities because they do come across some pretty horrific cases on a fairly regular basis.”

M&S in York city centreM&S in York city centre

Public realm operations manager Dave Meigh said complaints about the toilets at Silver Street and Coppergate had reduced significantly after the council spent £70,000 upgrading them in 2018.

At a meeting of the economy and place scrutiny committee, disability rights campaigner Flick Williams raised concerns about accessibility at public toilets.

They were frequently “filthy”, she said, but added that disabled people faced even more barriers when trying to use them as many were not suitable for people with extra access needs.

She added: “In reality, on any given day, disabled people’s best chance of finding a clean, accessible toilet remains the Explore Library, if it’s open, or, within the footstreets, the third floor of Marks&Spencer – which is not publicly funded provision.”

Cllr Pete Kilbane said disabled people needed to feel confident that they could access a toilet at any time of day.

In 2022 the council was awarded £250,000 of government funding for six new changing places toilets, which are fully accessible and include equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and space for carers.

Labour awarded Healthmatic the public toilets contract in 2014. It expires in 2029.