AFP, Posted on Friday, January 20, 2023 at 5:22 pm.
London’s Soho district, known for its party nightlife, is testing a new method to tackle the perennial problem of men urinating on the streets.
Officials in the district — many bars, restaurants and theaters, but about 3,000 residents — are busy repainting the walls with the famous paint in a dozen strategic locations.
It creates a water-repellent transparent layer on the walls that repels urine, a way to instantly punish criminals.
“It’s very effective, the evidence,” local councilor Aicha Les told AFP, demonstrating the effects of spraying by spraying a wall with a bottle of water.
Westminster City Council, which covers Soho, launched the scheme after receiving numerous complaints from residents and workers and traders in the area.
“Obviously, the urine is not very pleasant and our residents are angry,” admits Ms Les.
“They walk in their door in the morning and you smell urine,” he adds, stressing his constituents’ right to “live in a clean and safe environment.”
After learning of similar experiences elsewhere, particularly in Germany, local authorities decided to use this paint and plan to repaint ten walls in strategic locations in Soho.
“This wall is not a urinal” is written on the painted facade.
Westminster City Council spends nearly a million pounds (€1.15 million) every year cleaning streets, and spraying water on people stained with urine. He believes that paint will allow him to reduce these costs.
“We’ll see how much of a difference it’s going to make in six months, if there’s less of that smell in the air,” says Les.
– bad smell –
While men urinating in public is a persistent problem in busy nightlife neighborhoods, Soho residents say the issue is more pressing on their streets.
The small district in the heart of the British capital has more than 400 signs authorized to sell alcohol, a quarter of them late at night, says local resident Tim Lord, who heads an association that protects its residents.
“So in one night you can have thousands of people drinking and this summer, the toilets are closed and Soho stinks,” he says.
“If the anti-urine paint works, it will reduce the problem of smelly streets, especially in summer, that would be welcome. We believe it will work,” he adds.
Local authorities are evaluating a proposal to increase fines for offenders: urinating in public is now an offense punishable by a fine of 50 to 80 pounds (57 to 91 euros).
Temporary urinals have been installed at various locations around the neighborhood from Thursday to Sunday, when Soho is at its busiest.
But at the same time, the number of permanent toilets has also decreased, says Mr. Andavan. The last two underground latrines in the neighborhood were closed during the epidemic and never reopened.
It’s a “specifically English problem” that needs to be addressed, says Mr Lord. “You don’t have to travel far in Europe or North America to find perfectly clean and well-managed public restrooms.”
“Soho is a very important historic part of London, built in the 1650s,” he says. “We want our local council to take care of it.”
“Total coffee junkie. Tv ninja. Unapologetic problem solver. Beer expert.”
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