February 7, 2023

In London’s night-and-day borough of Soho, a new way is being tested to solve the chronic problem it suffers from – men pissing on the streets – by protecting the walls with a strange piss-proof paint.

And the authorities of the district, which includes a large number of bars, restaurants and theaters and is inhabited by about three thousand people, have been busy painting the walls at about ten strategic points with this paint, which creates a transparent layer on the walls. which throws urine back at the person who is urinating, like immediate retribution.

“It’s a very effective remedy with overwhelming evidence,” local council member Aisha Lis told AFP, proving her point by splashing water on the wall.

Westminster City Council, which has jurisdiction over the Soho area, launched the project after receiving several complaints from local residents, employees and businesses.

“Of course, urine is a nasty thing and the people in our area are outraged by the situation,” Lis said, adding: “They cross the threshold of the house in the morning and smell urination.” It emphasized the right of residents to live “in a clean and safe environment”.

And the local authorities decided to use this type of paint after hearing about similar experiences elsewhere, including in Germany, and they intend to paint ten walls at strategic locations in the Soho area.

The painted facades read: “This wall is not a place to urinate.”

Westminster City Council spends nearly a million pounds ($1.23 million) a year to clean up the streets, spraying urine-filled streets with water. Therefore, he hopes that this coating will help reduce costs.

“We will see how much this will make a difference over the next six months, and whether this smell will disappear,” Lis said.

Unpleasant odors

And while urination in public places is a common problem in areas with a vibrant nightlife, Soho residents believe that the problem is especially relevant on the streets of the area.

This area in the heart of the British capital has more than 400 licensed places to sell alcohol, including almost a quarter at night, according to Tim Lord, a resident of the area and head of the residents’ advocacy group.

“So, at night you can see thousands of people drinking, and this summer, when the toilets are closed, Soho stinks,” he said.

He added: “If the anti-urinary coating achieves its goal, it will reduce the problem of bad smells on the streets, especially in summer, and this is welcome. We hope it works.”

Authorities are also evaluating the possibility of increasing fines for violators, as urinating in public is an offense for which the perpetrator is currently subject to fines ranging from £50 to £80 ($62 and $99).

Temporary urination sites were also set up at various locations in the area between Thursday and Sunday, at the peak of demand in the Soho area.

However, in parallel, according to Lord, the number of permanent toilets has decreased. The last two underground toilets in the neighborhood were closed during the pandemic and have not reopened.

Lord said it was a “very English” issue that needed to be addressed, noting that “you don’t have to travel far across Europe or North America to find perfectly clean and well-equipped public toilets.”

Lord emphasized that Soho is part of a great historical significance in London, and its establishment dates back to the fifties of the seventeenth century. “We just want the municipal council to take care of it,” he added.

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