MORE public conveniences in Wales would help elderly people feel less isolated, as a lack of easily accessible toilets can leave senior citizens feeling reluctant to leave home, according to a city AM.
Swansea East representative Mike Hedges has made the call as colleagues debate a bill to address public health concerns, including improved access to toilets for public use.
The public toilet debate and the new Public Health bill follows the closure of a string of public conveniences by local authorities across Wales, which has contributed to an estimated 40 per cent drop in the number of public toilets across the UK.
Earlier this year, Swansea Council closed its Caer Street facility in the city centre, as part of a programme of measures intended to make savings.
And two other facilities, in Northampton Lane and Welcome Lane closed in the last ten years. The latter had become the focus of anti-social behaviour.
Carmarthenshire Council said it had closed two seasonal facilities in Pendine and Llansteffan approximately four years ago, and another six closed last year.
Neath Port Talbot Council has 14 facilities across the borough, but recently closed one in Resolven. Most authorities also take part in a Welsh Government scheme to encourage businesses to allow their toilets to be used, in return for funding for cleaning.
Mike Hedges AM, who is chairman of the cross-party group on older people and ageing, said: "The new Public Health Bill clearly outlines a number of practical actions to address specific public health concerns.
"This includes improving access to toilets for public use.
"It's my belief that in any civilised society older people should have easy access to public toilets in their community — this includes the number of toilets available and how accessible they are.
"A lack of public toilets leaves older people feeling isolated as they choose to stay at home, rather than meeting with friends and family out in their community."