Relief at last... as Brussels opens new public toilets!

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The Independent Online

Its best-known icon is a fountain running through a statue of a small boy relieving himself, so it shouldn't come as any great surprise that Brussels was desperate on Friday to inaugurate a new wave of public toilets in its city centre.

It may be the capital of Europe, but downtown residents have had enough of the city's swollen army of revellers doing the necessary after too many of Belgium's famous beers - and the stench of urine they say greets them when they walk out each morning.

The problem of the "morning after the night before," in the words of the city mayor's special delegate for cleanliness, Karine Lalieux, has long been highlighted by local campaigners who have mounted a tongue-in-cheek "pisspot festival" each April over recent years seeking upgraded facilities.

Deputy mayor with special responsibility for tourism, Philippe Close, personally inaugurated the first new toilet alongside Edmond Vandenhaute, the head of an association of friends of the famous "Manneken-Pis" statue.

Despite the presence of a battery of photographers and cameramen, it seems old Brussels habits die hard...

Ultimately, three new mixed public conveniences and 14 mens urinals will be scattered across the city centre - with seven "historic" urinals that had fallen into disrepair being renovated.