Councillor’s complaint sees Fairfield Halls drop mix-sex loos

Within a week of a Conservative councillor grumbling on social media about the “awful misogyny” of having mixed-sex signs on toilet doors at the Fairfield Halls, the management at the arts venue has abandoned the idea and removed the offending stickers.

Mixed messaging: Fairfield Halls management has now removed the gender-neutral sign

The idea of “gender neutral toilets”, where men or women could use the same facilities, was briefly tried in what’s been called the “John Whitgift Cube”, which is basically the daytime caff next to the Fairfield Halls, built as part of the venue’s controversial £70million refurbishment, which has adopted the title of the borough’s biggest landowner, presumably in return for a few bob towards its running costs.

Without going into too many graphic details, it has been long-established practice for many women, when confronted with queues to use women-only toilets, simply to nip into the gent’s next door for its … well… convenience. With, or without, any mixed-use signs.

But what seemed odd about the signage used at The Cube was that while the gender-neutral sign went up on the women’s toilet door – suggesting that men might make use of the “ladies'” – no such sign appeared on the gent’s.

This was flagged up on Twitter last weekend. “Today’s slow clap is for The Cube cafe in Croydon – they’ve added a handy unisex sticker to the ladies loos, but the men’s is still for, well, the menz.

“Fairfield Halls tell us, pray, why men’s privacy and dignity matters, but not women’s? Dying to hear it.”

Influential: Tory councillor Alasdair Stewart

Thrusting young Tory councillor Alasdair Stewart (he’s only been a councillor since last year, but is already deputy cabinet member for finance) spotted this and tweeted: “Really disappointed to see this at Fairfield Halls. Everyone deserves single sex facilities. I hope BHLive…”, who manage the Halls on behalf of the council… “urgently reconsider this awful misogyny.”

It seems that the Halls did reconsider… Inside Croydon contacted the Fairfield management, and almost a week later, after some a reminder, we were issued with the following statement: “There are facilities for all at the Cube café and throughout the building.

“The signage that’s been highlighted has now been removed.”

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16 Responses to Councillor’s complaint sees Fairfield Halls drop mix-sex loos

  1. Is that Alasdair Stewart by any chance related to the one that is happy to march through Croydon wearing a “Happy Pride LGBT+ Conservative” t-shirt? There’s better things for Jason Cummings’ number 2 to fuss about than a sign on a bog

    • derek thrower says:

      The problem for Part Time is that now as a Ceremonial Mayor this is his level of decision making. The executive functions has been outsourced. I am sure he will spend hours behind locked doors micromanaging and taking back control of Croydon’s bogs.

    • Cllr Alasdair Stewart says:

      Yes, same me. As a man in a same-sex relationship, I’m very keen to protect sex based rights and also the rights of women. There is absolutely no justification for changing a women’s toilet to unisex and leaving the men’s just for men.

      • “Everyone deserves single sex facilities”. Good for you Alasdair. At next year’s Pride event in Wandle Park, make the political-correctness-gone-mad unisex Portaloos fully segregated, with bouncers employed to enforce that ruling by making appropriate inspections before allowing visitors to spend a penny.

        • David says:

          The picture tells one story, female toilets on every other floor were chosen because of the cubicles in the space allowing privacy. It was an after thought by the Council, they didn’t build enough toilets on site for a clear delineation. Typical Tory Councillor bending a story to suit a narrative. It is 2023 and this shouldn’t even be a news item.

          • Anthony Miller says:

            Wasn’t the Fairfield Halls built in the 60s or did I miss something ? I know it was refurbished but… With the best will in the world it’s not going to get physically bigger , is it? Therefore the toilets have to fit in the same spaces?

      • Ken Towl says:

        These places are for the evacuation of the bowels and the bladder. We all have bowels and bladders. Rather than perpetuate the nonsense that toilets are a sex-based sanctuary, wouldn’t be better to just have… toilets?

      • Alan says:

        Thank you. “I’m very keen to protect sex based rights” makes your position and reasoning clearer. Just your bog-standard transphobe.

      • Peter Underwood says:

        As far as I’m aware we don’t have any ‘sex based rights’ in this country in the same way that we don’t have ‘race based rights’ . We all have human rights and they are there to protect us all from discrimination and ensure we are treated equitably, regardless of our race, gender, sexuality, disability or any other personal characteristic.

        I agree that it shouldn’t just have been women’s toilets that were changed to become gender neutral. But the answer would be to turn more of the men’s toilets into gender neutral toilets, not get rid of the ones already there.

        We need to get away from this ridiculous Victorian idea that men and women have to be segregated in separate toilets. Everyone is entitled to privacy but that’s an argument for all toilets being in cubicles not against different genders using the same toilet. There has been a gender neutral toilet in every home I’ve lived in and everyone seems to cope fine with that. As a female friend of mine also commented, if men had to join the same queues for the toilets that women always find themselves in at big public events then maybe the men would join the campaign for more public toilets and that would be better for all of us!

        • Cllr Alasdair Stewart says:

          That is quite an admission to make, Peter! Let me help by giving you a couple of examples of sex based rights.

          ‘Sex’, along with ‘sexual orientation’, are two of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. The Act also provides the basis for when a service provider can deliver services to only a single sex, or, for an employer to limit a role to someone of a certain sex (often seen in connection with domestic abuse or rape crisis roles).

          We also have the wonderful Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 201, which allows couples of the same sex to marry. That one literary starts with “(1) Marriage of same sex couples is lawful.”, another very simple and clear sex based right.

          And we absolutely mustn’t move to entirely gender neutral facilities. Separate male and female facilities are really important, both for basic dignity but also in terms of others religious and other beliefs, and vital to ensure that everyone – to quote one of your colleagues – is able to “piss in peace”.

          • It’s telling that you Tories focus your attention and efforts on who can use which toilet, while ignoring where the results go.

            Today we learn that the Office for Environmental Protection is saying what we all know, which is that your Tory government and its fake regulators have broken the law over sewage releases.

            Our rivers are full of shit and our beaches aren’t safe for paddling, surfing or swimming.

            Still, so long as men and women don’t have to share toilets (unless on a train or a plane or disabled or using the visitors’ WC near the public gallery in the Town Hall), you lot aren’t bothered

  2. David says:

    If I recall, when Fairfield reopened it had unisex toilets on every other floor. To remove them on the whim of a Councillor demonstrates how out of touch and bigoted BH Live are. Whatever your views, there can be no denying that Croydon is a diverse borough and everyone, no matter their individual identity should be safely welcomed to its arts provision. Fairfield has, like much of its program returned to the 1970’s. An utter disgrace. I do hope the arts council and leading arts publications have a view on this and shame BH into a u-turn.

  3. Michelle Ann says:

    In the course of my work I have had to visit many male and female toilets, and the male toilets are invariably wet and smelly, the women’s are clean and dry. Men splash and drip when urinating, women don’t. Sharing toilets means they are sometimes unusable by women, who always have to sit down. I don’t think many men are aware of this difference, and it is invariably men who think shared toilets are a good idea.

  4. Ed says:

    I recall a tv programme many years ago about the country’s best public toilet. I think the winner was the toilets in a stately home up north (Yorkshire?). When asked which gender were the messiest the lady attendant said: women

  5. Nick Davies says:

    I take it those (OK, Alasdair) who require segrated toilets don’t use trains or fly anywhere in case the bogs offend their basic dignity or religoius beliefs.

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