Park users are ‘urinating and defecating’ on Highbury Fields

Cllr Carloine Russell and local residents outside the toilet

Cllr Carloine Russell and local residents outside the toilet - Credit: Archant

Broken down toilets have caused smell in park where people line up to “relieve themselves”

Broken down automatic loos on Highbury fields are forcing desperate park users to urinate and even defecate in bushes, it has been claimed.

Hundreds of people flocking to the green space at weekends are said to be regularly lining up in bushes, while a popular area for urinating behind Oasis Cafe in the park is now said to be letting off a smell.

Members of the tennis club say they are embarrassed when teams visit and that young girls getting lessons are forced to squat amongst the shrubbery while a parent holds up a sheet.

“It’s not healthy, people are eating in the cafe and there’s a very bad smell,” said Yehia El-Nemer who runs Oasis Cafe.

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“They either need to stop the public toilet from breaking all the time or build some new ones.”

Park users had used the staff toilets behind the cafe until recently but the council have said the facilities are only suitable for staff use.

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Wendy Proudfoot, who coaches children at the recently refurbished tennis courts, said the lack of toilet facilities could discourage girls from taking up sport.

“The park keepers have said that people are even defecating in the park,” she said.

“Children turn up for tennis lessons and mothers have a sheet and they hold the sheet up and the children wee behind it.

“If you’re serious about getting women to stay in sport there’s no way you can expect them to do that.”

The Green Party’s Cllr Caroline Russell, who represents Highbury East ward, said people were “furious”.

“It’s a real problem for older people,” she said, “it’s a nightmare if you’ve got small children – if they’re bursting they just have to go, they can’t hold it.

“It is just not acceptable to just let this drag on.”

Caroline Griffiths, who plays for the Highbury Tennis Club, said she was embarrassed when teams came to play at the courts.

“It was the day of the tube strike and the other team drove for 90 minutes to get here and then had to walk half a mile to the pub to use the toilets as they weren’t prepared to squat in the bushes.

“That was embarrassing enough, but then they didn’t even want to drink their water as there were no toilet facilities.”

The council said that the faults were caused when people held the door of the automated toilets open.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “It is absolutely unacceptable that some people are relieving themselves in our park.

“The park toilet is operated electronically; this makes it accessible for wheelchair users.

“However, the door malfunctions when people force it to stay open. There are signs – both inside and outside the toilet – asking users not to do this.”

She advised park users to call the number printed on the toilet if it was not working.

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