Council spends $60,000 to stop public toilet sex

The Town of Cambridge will spend $60,000 on new lighting towers at a local public toilet to help end its status as a gay sex meeting place.

A one-month trial of CCTV and lighting at the Dodd Street toilet block, near Lake Monger, started in December and 94 per cent of local residents who responded to the council’s request for comments supported the measures.


The public toilets on Dodd Street. PHOTO: Eleri Teesalu.

The trial was extended for a month after a decline in sexual activity and undesirable behaviour was reported.

At its most recent meeting, the council agreed to install permanent lighting towers, at a cost of $60,000, but voted against keeping the CCTV.

Councillor Louis Carr said the council did not have the money to spend on cameras when it was thought that the lighting would do the job.

“The proposal to include CCTV as well as lighting was raised but not supported by majority of councillors,” Mr Carr said.

“Lighting alone was doing its job to reduce undesirable behaviour in the area…CCTV is an extra $10,000 we don’t necessarily have.”

The measures were taken after local school committees voiced their concerns to council in a letter.

“We are requesting your assistance and involvement in putting a plan in place to eliminate crime in the area,” the schools said.

“We have had numerous break-ins at all three premises and vehicles on Dodd Street, syringes on school premises and inappropriate sexual activity in and around the toilet block.”

West Leederville ward councillor Jane Powell said installing CCTV shouldn’t be the council’s responsibility and should be a matter for police.

“Installing CCTV in this area is something that police need to look into in order to reduce crime and undesirable activity in the area,” Ms Powell said.

The council previously considered demolishing the toilet block, but considered that would affect people who used the area for other types of recreation.

Residents who spoke to Western Independent backed the council’s decision to spend money on making the toilet block safe.

“I’ve been walking around here for 40 years and never noticed an issue, but there are lots of single females running around here,” Frank Wells said.

Eric Staples said the lighting towers would improve the area’s safety.

The council will reassess what is required at the toilet block later in the year.