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Bus drivers treated 'like animals' over toilet closure says Navin Shah

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By Natalie O'Neill

BUS drivers were forced to urinate in bushes "like animals" after their toilets were vandalised and closed, according to the London Assembly Member for Harrow and Brent. Navin Shah made the comments in relation to the decision by Transport for London (TfL) to close toilets outside Brent Cross Shopping Centre in Hendon, after the walls were covered in swastikas last November.

The facilities were reopened last Friday, but Mr Shah said it should have happened sooner and alternative arrangements should have been made in the meantime.

He said: “I find the whole situation totally outrageous. The bus drivers have been treated like animals and with total contempt by TfL.

“I have spoken to a range of bus drivers who are greatly angered and extremely upset at the way they were being treated. In this day and age to not provide toilets and make them use the bushes is inhumane. I have never heard of such a scenario.”

A petition called We are Not Dogs was launched calling for the toilets to remain open. It has been signed by around 300 people, including Mr Shah and mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone.

Campaign spokesman, Gerry Downing said: “The toilets were closed for 30 of the 39 days between November 28 and January 13.

"There was no reason to close them at all - they were fully functional all that time, as proved by the fact that the TfL officials used it themselves all that time, as they have the key.”

But Mike Weston, operations director for London Buses, said: “TfL has worked hard to ensure suitable bus driver toilet facilities are available at least one end of each of our routes.

"The toilets are solely for the use of bus drivers and as such, we expect drivers to respect these facilities.

“If a minority of bus drivers continue to vandalise these toilets we may forced to close these facilities permanently.

“If a bus driver is found to be misusing the facilities, they are likely to face disciplinary action by the operator that employs them.

“If the toilets are closed, bus drivers will be expected to find alternative toilet facilities, such as those in local bus garages.”

We are Not Dogs also calls for the conversion of a broom cupboard to expand 24-hour toilet facilities, a Muslim shower and prayer area and better mess room facilities for more than 70 drivers who take their meal breaks at Brent Cross.

TfL has said the mess room is undergoing refurbishment, which should be completed in the next couple of days.

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17th January 2012