Bathrooms, please?

"Netanya should plant fewer flowers and use the money to take better care of public facilities, for the health and hygiene of its citizens and visitors."

Public bathroom (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Public bathroom
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
‘Netanya is a beautiful city, and M a y o r Miriam Fierberg-Ikar is constantly making improvements,” city resident Michael Plaskow points out in a letter to Metro. “However, from what I have seen, in terms of caring for the health of its citizens in its public toilet areas, Netanya has a dismal record.”
Plaskow and his wife made aliya from London 16 years ago. There, he was the cantor in his synagogue for 43 years, and was awarded the title of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by the queen for his work in the community.
“Cleanliness is especially important to me due to the fact that I was diagnosed with bowel cancer 20 years ago, and had a reoccurrence 10 years ago. After my operations, I am entitled to use the handicapped toilet facilities,” he explains. “What I do not need, nor does the average person using a pubic toilet, is an infection.”
This past Independence Day, Plaskow had to use the public toilet on the promenade walkway, in back of the of the Café Del Mar. “I found the conditions quite appalling overall, in the handicapped toilet just as bad.”
“Moreover,” he notes, “I have experienced the lack of cleanliness several times in the previous years, and my complaints have brought no results. Therefore, this time I turned to The Jerusalem Post.”
“I think that public toilets should be clean; have paper; have working locks and clean basins for washing one’s hands. In my mind, the situation has only deteriorated.”
The initial response of the municipal spokesman was that renovations are set to be done at Café Del Mar, and that in any case, it is the café’s responsibility to ensure cleanliness. When questioned by this reporter, the café’s manager said it had not received any complaints. Later, in response to a follow-up question about the situation, the city spokesman responded that the city was sending out a tender for care of public toilets, and that it had nothing more to add. Metro will be following up on the situation.
Turning to the government, it is not clear where responsibility for public toilet maintenance lies. While the Health Ministry’s website does not specify it on its list of responsibilities, it does specify inspection of cleanliness in hotels, eateries and so forth.
On the other hand, the Environment Ministry does say it is responsible for enforcing sanitary conditions in public toilets in gas stations. The ministry lists 15 offenses, from absence of trash cans to absence of restrooms, as leading to fines; yet it does not specify city public toilets.
Perhaps Netanya would do well to take a global view. The city-state of Singapore, with a population of 5.69 million, has a restroom association and employs a “happy toilet rating” – giving public toilets three to five stars in terms of design, cleanliness and maintenance. The public is encouraged to participate via a website, which includes a map of the city showing where toilet facilities are located and their ratings.
What does Plaskow think of all this? “Netanya should plant fewer flowers and use the money to take better care of public facilities, for the health and hygiene of its citizens and visitors,” he suggests.