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A 20p charge to use toilets in the Royal Parks will prevent closures and help pay for cleaning and maintenance, it was announced today.

There are 27 toilet blocks across the parks, which are currently free and cost The Royal Parks around £1.5m a year to clean and maintain. 

The new 20p charge will be introduced between February and March 2015, although accessible toilets, most of which have baby changing facilities, and children's toilets in playgrounds, will remain free. There will be no charging at toilets in park cafes as they are not included in these plans.

Head of Park Services Dennis Clarke said:

"Government funding for The Royal Parks has been cut by more than a third in real terms since 2010/11, so we face some tough choices. The 20p cost is a relatively modest charge compared with other toilet facilities in London.  This will not generate any profits for The Royal Parks, but it will allow us to keep toilets open and reduce the amount by which we subsidise them."

The Royal Parks has today announced the appointment of a contractor to run toilet services across all the parks.  Vinci Facilities has been appointed following a competitive tendering process and will take over responsibility for cleaning and maintaining toilets this autumn.  The introduction of charges will be publicised to park visitors well in advance. 

Change machines will be installed at all high footfall toilets, but some remote or low footfall toilets may only have a coin operated door entry mechanism.  Each of the parks will have static or mobile attendants during opening hours, so toilets will be visited, checked and cleaned regularly throughout each day. Attendants will be contactable by mobile phone and will allow free entry to people with particular needs or medical conditions.

Notes to editors

There are 27 toilet blocks covered by the contract across eight Royal Parks, eight of which are for children only.  A further ten sets of toilets are located within concessions or visitor centres.  There is no legal obligation to provide any toilet facilities in the Royal Parks.

The toilets in Victoria Tower Gardens, which have been closed for some decades, are currently being refurbished and are expected to reopen in summer 2015.

In some parks charges will be suspended during major events like Remembrance Sunday, the London Marathon and the summer concerts in Hyde Park, to accommodate the very high footfall at busy times.

About the Royal Parks

Almost 40 million Londoners and tourists visit the eight Royal Parks each year. The 5,000 acres of historic parkland provide unparalleled opportunities for enjoyment, exploration and healthy living in the heart of London.

The Royal Parks are: Bushy Park, The Green Park, Greenwich Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens,The Regent's Park and Primrose Hill, Richmond Park and St James's Park. The Royal Parks also manages Victoria Tower Gardens, Brompton Cemetery, Grosvenor Square Gardens and the gardens of 10, 11 and 12 Downing Street.

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