A TOILET BLOCK at Wellington Square in East Perth may be demolished as part of a bid to deal with on-going anti-social behaviour.
Homeless people shelter under the block’s eaves but fed-up nearby residents say they also engage heavily in illicit drugs use, fight, harass passers-by and defecate in their front yards.
The sturdy but dingy block is listed by Perth city council as having “zero value”. Staff recommend the PCC spend $500,000 replacing it with a smaller automatic loo, a compact, time-limited facility that “automatically cleans”.
Nearby residents are all for moving on the homeless, saying they’ve endured hell living near the park.
The Clean Up Wellington Sq Facebook page features videos and photos that document drug use, fighting and harassment.
Drugs paraphernalia such as empty nitrous oxide vials and bongs are scattered around, and people have been photographed defecating in front yards.
But for those who stay in the square their options are limited: many are visiting the city for dialysis treatment at the Royal Perth.
The WA government provides vouchers for hostel accommodation, but the affordable options have conditions attached considered to be worse than sleeping outdoors. And when patients bring a number of family members with them the tiny hostel rooms are too small.
Many of the problems are outside what the Perth city council can fix: its staff pick up rubbish and clean the toilets daily, but illicit drug use and fighting are up to police to sort out, and accommodation for patients the responsibility of the WA government.
The government is in the early stages of establishing dialysis facilities in the Pilbara so many don’t have to travel to Perth. They’re expected to come online over the next couple of years.
Replacing the square’s block has the support of police, the Aboriginal Affairs department, local Liberal MP Eleni Evangel and Greg Johnson, a member of the group Citizen Advocates at Wellington Square.
Cr Rob Butler is sceptical of the plan: he doesn’t think tackling anti-social behaviour is a good enough reason to spend half-a-million dollars, especially given “I don’t think it’ll deter it”.
He says the WA government should put up some money.
He’s also concerned about the reliability of auto-toilets, having personally run into problems with the one across from Russell Square.
“I tried to use that the other night: It didn’t work!”
by DAVID BELL