Northampton mother is “scared” to use public toilets only open to women because drug users are making it a danger zone

Mother-of-two, Dawn Reichhart of St James
Mother-of-two, Dawn Reichhart of St James
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A mother-of-two, who witnessed a man overdosing in a women’s public toilet in front of her young children in Northampton, is calling on the borough council to clean up the ongoing vandalism.

Dawn Reichhart claims that the Abbey Street public toilet block in St James has only been open to women for the last three months, but she already has seen one man “overdosing in the corner” of a women’s cubicle while his friend stood on guard.

The state of the public toilets in Abbey Street has been the source of numerous complaints in recent years, which have been brought to light by many Chronicle and Echo readers.

Mrs Reichhart, who visited the toilet block on Monday with her two sons, said: “The men’s toilets were shut down three months ago and I have never seen them unlocked since.”

The loos are often strewn with syringes as well as being used by rough sleepers and in the summer a toilet seat was smashed to pieces in a cubicle.

She added: “I had my children with me on Monday when I saw a man with a bike standing in the walkway of the toilets. I walked in and saw a bloke overdosing in the corner, so I called an ambulance. Both of my children saw that happen.

“There is drug paraphernalia, including needles and equipment to use heroin everywhere in the women’s toilets. The toilets are also blocked.”

Councillor Alan Bottwood, cabinet member for the environment, said: “The toilets on Abbey Street were closed earlier in the year for repair, however they have reopened since. The facilities do need to be locked from time to time to allow for maintenance works, such as dealing with a leak, as was the case on Monday. This work is now complete and the toilets are currently open to the public.

“We always want people to feel safe in Northampton and would encourage anyone who witnesses illegal or anti-social behaviour to report it to the police as soon as they can.”

Back in July Councillor Rufia Ashraf (Lab, St James) launched a campaign to keep St James litter-free, but it is questionable how much of a difference the call for a clean-up is making.

During the summer, the councillor in charge of the campaign urged that the Abbey Street toilets be cleaned more regularly and spoke to council officers about improving the state of the loos.

She said: “Maybe there needs to be more checks made of it to stop the vandalism occurring. “It is a public toilet, but if people don’t use it properly my fear is it will be locked up for good.”

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