Gold awards for
revamped loos at Church Square Shopping Centre
BOSSES at Church Square
Shopping Centre are flushed with success after winning double gold
for the precinct’s toilets. Now they’re hoping to pick up a national
title at the industry’s “Oscars” – Loo of the Year
2014. It follows a £60,000 investment to ensure shoppers can spend a
penny in style at the busy St Helens Shopping Centre. Judges from
the British Toilet Association decided to hand the gold medals to
Church Square Shopping Centre for both of its facilities; in St
Mary’s Arcade and Lagrange Arcade.
The BTA inspectors made unannounced visits to check everything from
how clean the facilities were, through to spare loo rolls and enough
soap. Other criteria included plenty of signs to point the way for
shoppers, enough cubicles, at least two types of hand driers,
disabled facilities and baby changing areas plus cubicles suitable
Church Square Shopping Centre manager Steve Brogan
said:- “This is a real vote of confidence for our staff, who
work hard every day to make sure that the loos are kept clean and
tidy, just like the rest of the precinct. We know that our shoppers
value having excellent, safe toilet facilities and baby changing
areas that are easy to reach from both the centre and the car park.
Whether you are parent with young children, a worker grabbing some
shopping in their lunch break or a pensioner, there’s nothing worse
than trying to plan your day around where you can use a loo. That’s
why we made the investment to ensure the facilities in both parts of
the centre were the best possible, and designed so they could be
kept clean easily. We are proud of our green credentials here, so
they are also environmentally friendly; from the hand driers to the
The Centre is now up for the national title at the BTA’s Loo Of The
Year Awards, in December 2013, it was won by Brighton and Hove
Council. Shopping Centres have only taken the top title twice in the
Awards’ 28 year history; the last time was back in 2007.
Britain’s Got Talent comedian Kev Orkian, who has performed for both
Prince Charles and Prince Philip, will be handing out the prizes at
the ceremony, on December 5 in Solihull.
A BTA spokesman said:- "Since its introduction in 1987, the
annual Loo of the Year Awards competition has helped focus the
spotlight on 'away from home' toilets throughout the UK. The Awards
have a simple objective; to encourage the highest possible standards
in all types of 'away from home' or public toilets. Everyone has a
shared responsibility to make this happen; toilet providers,
managers, washroom suppliers, contractors, staff, visitors and
customers, all toilet users."
The criteria for the awards includes:-
► Adequate directions to the toilets for
both foot and car users.
► Proper signage, both outside and inside
the toilets, including name of location, facilities available,
person/authority responsible and how to contact if require.
► Adequate facilities for both men and
► Hot and cold running water to wash
basins in all facilities provided, with adequate provisions for
► Adequate provision for hand drying,
preferably choice of 2 types:- Lockable toilet tissue dispensers,
preferably with spare rolls/tissue.
► Sanitary towel disposal units inside all
► Properly designed and equipped
► Dedicated and properly equipped
babychange facilities in both male and female toilets; or as a
unisex facility, to include adult toilet facilities and room for
► Child/family friendly cubicles and/or
family toilets, properly equipped.
► Older child/adult fixed or height
adjustable changing bench
► Effective cleaning regime and
management, to ensure proper standards of cleanliness at all times.
Did you know? Church Square Shopping Centre was built in 1973? It is
open daily and home to a range of big name stores; such as BHS,
Boots, Roman and Superdrug; along with independent retailers, plus
the busy St Mary’s Market. There are 550 parking spaces across St
Mary’s and Tontine car parks. More details can be found online as
well as opening times, along with many offers at:-
praised by Citizens Advice
LIVERPOOL City Council’s
scheme to help people hit by welfare reforms has been praised by the
Citizens Advice Bureau. Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme; which
replaced DWP Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants in 2013; helped
almost 9,000 people in its 1st year. The scheme is focused around
Urgent Needs; mainly food, fuel and clothing, and Home Needs such as
furniture, white goods and household items which are supplied by
Liverpool Furniture Resource Centre.
Citizens Advice have highlighted Liverpool’s scheme in a new report
on their website titled:- “Making Welfare Work Locally”.
They say the city’s approach stood out because it was:-
“designed to be flexible and appropriate changes were made during
the year as lessons were learned”. The city council
increased promotion of the scheme and used an underspend to
introduce a freephone number and to support related initiatives such
as benefits maximization and topping up the discretionary housing
payments budget to help people affected by the so called:-
Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:- "When we
spoke to staff at Liverpool City Council, we were particularly
impressed by how officers were keen that the scheme was able to
respond quickly to provide help to people in urgent need as well as
help with furniture and household goods. It was good to see how they
had been able to amend the scheme during the year to respond to
feedback from user groups to make it more accessible to a wider
range of people in crisis."
They were also impressed with the way the scheme is integrated into
the Benefits Service so that the team can assess the application for
any other entitlements and support.
Urgent needs awards are processed in 2 days, while Home Needs claims
are dealt with in 10 days.
Mayor Joe Anderson said:- "These are really tough times for
many of our residents who are battling a rising cost of living with
a reduction in their benefits and this leaves them extremely
vulnerable at times of crisis. The help our scheme gives with basic
living costs and the essentials of setting up home can make a huge
difference. We have worked hard to ensure the service is quick,
flexible to meet a range of needs and helps people access a range of
other support where needed. This is part of the council’s commitment
to helping those who are most in need, which has also included
setting up the Tackling Poverty Action Group, chaired by Councillor
Frank Hont, which looks to coordinate activity across the city with
all those agencies working to support our most vulnerable citizens.
The council also supports food banks through the Mayor’s Hope Fund,
uses our reserves to mitigate the impact of the cut in council tax
support and gives £1 million to credit unions to try and stop people
turning to loan sharks."
An example highlighted in the report is a man who found himself
caring for his younger siblings when his mum died. He received
financial support to tide him over while a child benefit application
was processed and also had help with his housing benefit.
More recently, the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme been extended
to help with the cost of moving home as a result of benefit
reductions such as the under occupation penalty (the so called
bedroom tax), which affects 11,000 tenants in Liverpool.
Support is also now provided where people are being threatened with
eviction due to debt, and to help with the cost of starting work.
The council has also extended the use of freephone 0800 numbers to
all Benefits Service calls including housing benefit, council tax
support, free school meals and benefits maximisation advice.
Plus, additional staff are being employed by the benefits
maximisation team to help people affected by welfare reforms.
Read the Citizens Advice Liverpool case study at the CA's
website. More information
about the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme, and details of how to
apply, can be found
is a road to nowhere for many rural retirees
FOLLOWING a recent report by The Royal
Voluntary Service (RVS), predicting that half a million elderly UK
residents could spend Christmas Day alone, NFU Mutual, the UK’s
leading rural insurer, is concerned that the problem of isolation is
much greater for elderly people living in rural areas due to a lack
of access to reliable broadband. While the Government is keen
to encourage elderly people to use social media and video calling to
contact distant relatives, such systems are reliant on access to
reliable and affordable internet access, something which can be a
postcode lottery in rural areas. Earlier this year, NFU Mutual
undertook a study of rural internet users which showed that more
than a third (37%) of those who do have internet access in the
countryside say that it’s too slow for their needs. Commenting on
the problem, Nicki Whittaker, a Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU
Mutual said:- “The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select
Committee has just launched an inquiry looking at the current
broadband coverage in rural areas, which suggests that sufficient
progress has not been made and that rural residents and businesses
are still disadvantaged by a lack of access to a reliable and quick
broadband service.” Not only are rural households less
likely to have superfast broadband (22% uptake vs. 32% in urban
areas), but they are also half as likely to be able to use mobile
broadband through 3G and 4G devices. Nicki continued:-
“The Government has just announced a 2 tier approach to
tackling this issue, the 1st part of which is a commitment to spend
£150 million to finance hundreds of new mobile phone masts for the
most isolated rural areas and, whilst this is certainly a step in
the right direction, many rural home and business owners remain
frustrated by the amount of time it is taking to secure fast and
reliable broadband in their areas. The issue with rural broadband
isn’t always that there is a lack of ways to get online, but that
many of them are inadequate. People should speak to their provider
or local MP to discuss improvements or solutions. Community
services, such a local libraries often provide online access;
however, as many libraries in rural areas have closed, getting
access to the internet is not always straightforward.” What
are your views on this? Please email us to:-
firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.