Is urinating in public ever acceptable?
Published: 15th May 2012 14:01:47
A court ruling has cast doubt on whether urinating in public is a nuisance - as long as no-one sees. So is it really ever acceptable?
You are driving along an unfamiliar country road. An urgent dilemma nags at both your bladder and your conscience.
With no public toilets in sight, do you carry on in discomfort? Or do you find somewhere discreet to pull over?
While the cultural aversion to performing basic bodily functions in the open air is widespread, all too often it is tested by immediate physical pressures.
The rights and wrongs of this quandary have been tested in court after a couple in Somerset, John and Cherry Pusey, tried to force their local council to close a lay-by near their home which passing motorists regularly used for open-air "comfort breaks".
However, Lord Justice Ward - sitting with Lords Justice Longmore and Patten at the Court of Appeal - ruled that the urinating drivers' impact was not "cumulatively intolerable" because they were not "obviously visible" from the Puseys' home, according to reports.
But whatever the legal position, not everyone will be convinced that this represents a factor in mitigation.
The spectacle of drunken revellers fouling town centres in the early hours of weekends is regularly held up as a symptom of societal decline.
There was widespread public anger at student Philip Laing, caught urinating on a Sheffield war memorial in 2009. And the practice can be deemed "disorderly behaviour" in England and Wales, an offence punishable with a fine under the 1986 Public Order Act.
Local authorities in Chester launched a crackdown after fears that well-refreshed revellers were causing irreparable damage to the city's medieval walkways.
Even Paris, home of the pissoir, launched a high-profile, all-out crackdown on outdoor urination under Mayor Jean-Pierre Rebete.
Environmental concerns have also driven the fight against al fresco relief. Researchers in Germany believe swimmers passing water into Eichbaum lake, Hamburg, are partly responsible for an algae bloom that killed more than 500 fish.
For this reason, the Glastonbury Festival regularly deploys a "green police" force which threatens revellers with expulsion if they fail to use toilets, amid fears that excess urination could affect the local water, polluting rivers and streams.
The zero-tolerance stance is backed by Raymond Boyd Martin, managing director of the British Toilet Association, which represents the UK lavatory industry.
Boyd-Martin accepts that allowances should be made for the elderly and those with medical complaints - but otherwise, he believes, the practice should never be condoned.
"It's always anti-social," he says. "It has to be wrong in this day and age. There's no reason in the 21st Century we should have to do this.
"If you are making a journey you should be planning where and when you are going to stop - in restaurants, in hotels or in petrol stations.
"At the end of the day it's about decency. This is someone exposing themselves in a public place."
Nonetheless, anyone with a small child knows how difficult locating a toilet at any given time can be.
Jellyfish stings are commonly believed to be relieved by the application of urine.
17th Century diarist Samuel Pepys records the use of urine as a cosmestic treatment for women.
Scientists may have found a method of converting our pee into a source of renewable energy.
In the 16th Century, urine was used by some physicians as a disinfectant for the treatment of serious wounds.
Some horticulturists recommend the use of urine in the garden as a natural fertiliser - the nitrogen helps enrich compost.
Urban planners at the University of the West of England estimate that the UK has lost 40% of its public toilets in the past decade, a process that has been exacerbated by local authority budget cuts. In Manchester, the number of civic conveniences went from 19 to one.
At the same time, many people remain shy of using facilities in pubs, restaurants and shops of which they are not a customer.
Quentin Willson, motoring journalist and former Top Gear presenter, insists he has nothing to be ashamed of when he pulls over to use a lay-by.
On smaller roads where there are few roadside services, he says, they could be a life-saver.
"I would much rather have people weeing in them than carrying on driving and not being able to concentrate," he argues.
"I wouldn't go out to do it publicly, where there were a lot of people around. I'd find a bush or go into a field. Lay-bys are a fantastic British tradition."
Few philosophy textbooks have tackled this ethical conundrum. But millions have wrestled with it, on a highway far from home.
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Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Is urinating in public ever acceptable? [Online] (Updated 15th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1428705/Is-urinating-in-public-ever-acceptable [Accessed 7th Mar 2014]
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With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
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