A new Community Toilet Scheme (CTS) has been launched in Poole Town Centre, providing visitors and shoppers with access to more modern, safer and cleaner public toilets.
The scheme is a partnership between the Council, local businesses and other partners and allows anyone to use the loos in scheme members' premises without being a paying customer.
Businesses signing up to the scheme will display the 'use our loo' sticker in their window to show their facilities are available for public use.
So far, Sainsbury's, Poole Museum and The Lighthouse have all joined the scheme and will offer parent-friendly and disability accessible toilets free of charge to the public.
Participating businesses receive a fee from the Council to cover the cost of providing facilities to the public.
The Council is looking at different ways to provide access to clean, safe toilets. There are 23 public toilets across the borough and the cost of running these facilities is rising as the buildings age. The Council estimates the cost of refurbishing these facilities would be £1.3 million over the next 10 years.
By 2019, government funding for local services in Poole will reduce to zero. The Council has to find further savings of £12 million over the next three years to close the funding gap in its budget.
The launch of the Town Centre Community Toilet Scheme means four council-run public toilets in Kingland Road Bus Station, Quay Visitors, Chapel Lane and Quay Watch Station have now closed, at a saving of £98,000 a year.
Cllr John Rampton, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Environmental and Consumer Protection Services, Borough of Poole, said: "Community Toilet Schemes are one of the innovative approaches the Council is taking to meet the significant financial challenge it faces over this and forthcoming years.
"We know our residents and visitors value having access to toilets. Similar community schemes have been running very successfully in four areas of the borough and many other parts of the country for some time now and provide a means to offer modern, clean, accessible and safe facilities to the public.
"We're delighted to have Sainsbury's, Poole Museum and The Lighthouse on board to launch the Community Toilet Scheme in the town centre and we will continue to encourage more businesses to sign up as the new scheme develops."
In addition to the three new facilities, existing toilets at the Dolphin Shopping Centre and Dolphin Quays will also be available for public use.
Poole launched its first Community Toilet Scheme in Broadstone in August 2013, followed by Canford Heath in September 2013, and Hamworthy and Parkstone in March 2014.
Businesses interested in joining Poole's Community Toilet Scheme should contact Environmental and Consumer Protection Services on 01202 261700 or email email@example.com.
Read more about Poole's Community Toilet Scheme.