A costly matter of convenience

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That ‘almost’, however, is an important word. Even in the most extreme circumstances, a price tag of almost £108,000 for a convenient convenience would be considered just a little on the steep side.

But that is the estimated cost of replacing the public loos in the car park near Sir Winston Churchill Park in St Brelade’s Bay. True, the building itself should cost no more than £90,000, but add some lights, a couple of hand-dryers and some plumbing – this being the core of the whole project – and you’re soon well over the hundred grand mark.

As anyone with even elementary knowledge of the UK housing market will tell you, in many parts of the country £108,000 will buy you a pretty good property that will have more than two rooms labelled, respectively, ‘ladies’ and ‘gents’. Indeed, in many areas in the north of England a six-figure sum will buy a three-bedroom semi in a respectable neighbourhood.

This all goes to prove that if on the other side of the Channel there is a significant north-south divide, the prosperity gap between this Island and the rest of Britain is as deep and as wide as the Marianas Trench.

Yet when it comes to the humble public convenience, do we really have to be as lavish as the present St Brelade plans suggest? Or is the projected cost merely symptomatic of Jersey’s Rolls-Royce attitude to public spending?

Across the water in the other direction, our French cousins have long favoured the Clochemerle style of installation for the bendfit of its continence-challenged citizens.

As well as being cheap to construct and cheaper to maintain, these structures are also made principally of stone and cast-iron, making them a bit of a challenge for the sort of juvenile arsonists who put paid to the St Brelade building and another at Bonne Nuit.

And there would be another advantage. Come the tourist season, our visitors would surely relish the gallic touch if, after nature had called down on the beach, they found themselves using not any common or garden facility of the sort found from Land’s End to John O’Groats but a pissoir with genuine continental ambiance.

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