A MUM from Stroud was ‘disgusted’ to find heroin paraphernalia in a public toilet when she took her four-year-old son in there.
Maria Smith, 28, found lighters, a teaspoon and syringe wrappers when she and son Thomas entered the Stroud District Council-run loos in Bedford Street, behind the Sub Rooms.
They were heading home from a morning at Tiddlywinks playgroup at St Laurence church hall when they popped in to use the toilet.
Maria, who lives in Woodchester, said: “I was disgusted by what I found in the family toilet there.
“There was a really weird smell in there and then I turned around and saw a lighter, spoons and all these sterile, official wrappers.
“It was obvious that someone had been using heroin.
“I panicked and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.”
She added: “As a mother I was disgusted, but at the same time I feel sorry for people in that situation. There needs to be more support for them, maybe a safe hub for users.
“But something needs to be done to manage this. I thought this issue had been sorted out before the toilets were reopened.”
The public toilets in Bedford Street were closed in July last year due to drug use concerns.
A number of initiatives followed, including the installation of a sharps bin for the safe disposal of needles on the outside wall of one of the toilets, closer monitoring of CCTV in Bedford Street and increased patrols in the area by the police and SDC’s neighbourhood wardens.
The toilets were then fully reopened in October.
Michael Athienites of Marah – which helps adults in Stroud with issues such as homelessness and drug addiction – said that drug users would be more likely to use the sharps bin if it was inside a toilet cubicle, rather than on the outside wall.
He said: “I feel it would be safer to try and put a small sharps bin inside each cubicle, if possible. It’s safer all round, both for users and the public.”
A Stroud District Council spokesman said: “The situation in the Bedford Street toilets has improved since we temporarily closed them last year.
“We installed a sharps bin on the outside wall, monitor the CCTV in Bedford Street, and our neighbourhood wardens patrol the area more frequently, along with the police and PCSOs.
“The toilets are cleaned twice a day, and although the cleaners still occasionally find drugs paraphernalia there, they haven’t noticed a significant rise in incidents.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely and if it does worsen, we will consider a number of options to keep the public safe.”