Regarding Hereford BID manager Mike Truelove’s opinion piece in the Hereford Times, there was an essential ingredient missing as he argued what needs to be done to encourage shoppers’ safe return to Hereford’s city centre – access to public toilets.

This is not just a local issue but affects all urban centres. Public toilets are a basic necessity.

Any council concerned about promoting inclusiveness and the wellbeing of its citizens would ensure that high-quality, well-managed, disabled-access friendly public toilets, were accessible for all.

Public toilets, like all public services, are of greater importance to some groups than to others, including for women, disabled, elderly and ill people as well as families with young children.

Without the public provision of high-quality toilets, people in these groups become isolated, and effectively discouraged from visiting and enjoying public spaces, shops and all the rest that Hereford and its market towns want, and need, to offer their communities to thrive.

We have a dearth of provision in the city centre, recently made worse by the closure of Maylord Shopping Centre’s toilets.

But with the recent announcement of Herefordshire Council’s purchase of this site, the city has a rare and golden opportunity to include a properly managed suite of public loos that people can rely on to be clean, safe, open and welcoming, whatever the need.

This could include a proper Changing Places facility for people with severe impairments, a welcome area for nursing mums, tantrum toddlers, baby changing, and more.

Yes, these facilities cost money to run, but there are ways to deal with this. To use the argument that such an essential facility is too expensive to contemplate completely misses the point that urban centres must retain their humanity to survive. They can no longer be seen as an economic free-for-all.

They have to meet the complex social needs of real people in real time.

A failure to provide such facilities undermines the economic wellbeing of smaller local businesses, and it is particularly important at a time of severe retail stress.

They are also a vital resource in helping develop the city’s ability to attract visitors.

So we appeal to our councils to show the political will required to embrace this opportunity to move Hereford into the 21st century with dependable public toilet provision to support the reopening of Hereford’s many other essential provisions.

Mo Burns and Lynne Bowers