The good, the bad and the truly whiffy

SUFFOLK smells hit the headlines when we revealed the smoking ban was giving rise to once-hidden pongs in pubs and clubs. But surely the smelliest places in Ipswich remain public loos?Features editor TRACEY SPARLING investigates the town centre's loo roll of honour - and dishonour!CATTLEMARKETFirst impression: In need of a lick of paint to say the least, but once you put 10p in the slot the interior is surprisingly very clean - probably because nobody ever dares to use it! There's an automated handwash which sort of works.

By Tracey Sparling

SUFFOLK smells hit the headlines when we revealed the smoking ban was giving rise to once-hidden pongs in pubs and clubs. But surely the smelliest places in Ipswich remain public loos?

Features editor TRACEY SPARLING investigates the town centre's loo roll of honour - and dishonour!

CATTLEMARKET

First impression: In need of a lick of paint to say the least, but once you put 10p in the slot the interior is surprisingly very clean - probably because nobody ever dares to use it!

There's an automated handwash which sort of works.

Most Read

Problems: Plastic seat ripped off, and no soap no matter how long I hold my hands under it. You wouldn't want to hang around, with the drunks outside.

How many toilets: Four

Marks out of ten: 6

MAJOR'S CORNER

First impression: One of the newest public conveniences in Ipswich, and it shows. Light and airy with bright white walls, and blue-stained timbers on the ceiling matching the tiles and floor. No smell.

It still mystifies me as to why the council decided giving the 'major' a fly swat would create a good impression.

Problems: A few sweet wrappers on the floor, but otherwise very good.

There is no reassuring presence of an attendant in the office by the entrance, on the day I visit.

How many toilets: Nine

Marks out of ten: 9

CHRISTCHURCH PARK near the ice cream kiosk

First impression: I must state from the outset, that new facilities are being built within the park's new visitor centre - and the old Bolton Lane block has been demolished, leaving just an ancient block up past the ice cream kiosk.

Of course nobody expects park toilets to be sweet smelling, but a degree in courage is needed to enter, unless you're as naïve as the dozens of schoolkids who were being herded in and out by their teacher.

Problems: Every door is covered in childish but offensive scrawl, and has the windows painted out.

This block is segregated with men on one side, women on the other, but one man seems oblivious as he enters the ladies'. Maybe he can't see the 'women' sign beneath the graffiti.

Inside the floors are wet, and it's damp, dank and dark. The smell is nasty, nasty, nasty. Thank God I can get straight back into the fresh air. One out of order.

How many toilets: Eight

Marks out of ten: 1 -roll on the day when the new ones will be open.

MARKS & SPENCER second floor

First impression: Once you've wound your way past the queues for currency and customer orders, this loo is very busy with customers - which inspires confidence. A neon yellow door welcomes you, plus pot pourri.

Problems: Tarnished taps and very smelly. As I wrinkle my nose, a woman agrees “It's always smelly in here.” Yet still very busy with ladies of a certain age.

How many toilets: Six

Marks out of ten: 7

DEBENHAMS second floor

First impression: Tucked away behind the electrical department -not a good mix when water's concerned!

Problems: Slightly smelly.

The interior designers had chosen stainless steel all-in-one contraptions as hand dryers. One of the three dryers is out of order, with its front hanging open. I have the sneaking suspicion these toilets hadn't been paid any attention by cleaners that day - else surely they would have closed the dryer door?

How many toilets: Seven, including one out of order

Marks out of ten: 6

BY THE SPIRAL CAR PARK/NEW WOLSEY

First impression: Far too conspicuous to ever use! An island of convenience in a sea of paving.

Problems: Signs laud its automatic flush and tells you how to lock the door once inside.

In the four minutes or so which it takes me to approach this loo and survey it, the huge stainless steel door remains shut, and the little light insists 'engaged.'

I have a 10p ready but I can hear voices inside. The loo users/druggies/homeless never emerge so I can't see inside; a girl can't wait forever you know!

How many toilets: One

Marks out of ten: O - Maybe unfair but I can't get in!

BUTTERMARKET SHOPPING CENTRE

First impression: Wow, a cleaner, finally! She seems to be busy emptying bins.

I checked her list on the wall and she pops in every half hour to clean up.

Problems: All I can complain of is a queue, because it was busier in here than many of the shops in the centre.

How many toilets: Eight

Marks out of ten: 7 - mainly due to such regular visits by a cleaner!

TOWER RAMPARTS

First impression: In a dingy corner of the shopping centre, down some steps behind the shops. These prove to be the messiest sinks I've seen all day.

Problems: Rolls of soggy toilet roll trail across the sinks. One cubicle has a big sign saying it is out of order.

How many toilets: Five

Marks out of ten: 3

MCDONALD'S

First impression: No signs to point the way for those desperate diners. The 'women's' sign is also missing off the door but a process of elimination led me inside.

Problems: The strange sinks look like urinals -and yes I am in 'the ladies'!

There is a vat of pink soap in one dispenser, but just a metal backing plate where the other dispenser should be.

It's so small and poky that you can't swing a cat round when you venture out of the cubicle.

I can't detect a smell but then my senses are somewhat dulled by the aroma of burgers and fries.

How many toilets: Three

Marks out of ten: 4

IPSWICH RAILWAY STATION

First impression: Yucky orange and green colour scheme, but very spacious. Two rooms with the antechamber boasting a row of sinks too.

Problems: Not one toilet has been flushed - although I can't blame the toilet owners for that. You can however laugh at them for putting a silly sign up above the radiator saying 'This heater will get hot.'

The end cubicle seems to be missing a toilet so perhaps it's a changing room.

Paper towels overflow the bin by the sinks, and there's no hot water.

The cleaner's log on the wall shows no visit today and it's 9.50am.

How many toilets: Four

Marks out of ten: 5

THE VERDICT:

Spend your pennies in shops, rather than 'public' loos. There's more chance of a cleaner having been round, and there are staff nearby to complain to if you spot a problem.

Having said that, if you're shopping in town I think it's worth the walk to the best at Major's Corner.

After washing my hands ten times in a day (to test the sinks) I was left hankering after some decent soap. What a shame we have no luxury loos with Molton Brown toiletries to make the most of. A little pampering goes a long way, so come on Ipswich retailers, and fill this gap in the market! That would be enough to tempt me into your shop.

My apologies to the men, whose facilities I couldn't investigate for fear of being arrested. But there's still a chance for you to have your say.

N

Send your comments to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter