HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition launched in a bid to save the in-store toilets at a Southampton supermarket.

Sainsbury's is making a new attempt to axe the loos at its Shirley branch after warning that anti-social behaviour is posing a danger to staff and customers.

But the move has come under fire from shoppers, who say it would result in the loss of a vital community facility.

Daily Echo: Jenny Puckett is one of the people calling for the toilets to be kept open.Jenny Puckett is one of the people calling for the toilets to be kept open.

Now chartered surveyor Andrew Hetherton, 54, of Southampton, has launched an online petition on in a bid to block the supermarket's plans.

As reported in the Daily Echo, an application to remove the toilets was thrown out by the city council but the company has lodged an appeal.

Read more: Shirley supermarket in new attempt to axe in-store toilets

Mr Hetherton said elderly and disabled people were often reluctant to go out unless they knew they would have access to public conveniences.

He added: "Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, known collectively as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), affects approximately one in 400 people in the UK.

"The sudden and uncontrollable need to use a toilet is a recognised symptom of IBD. Having an ‘accident’ in public is every patient’s worst fear and can have a devastating effect on their ability to undertake everyday activities."

More than 270 people have signed the petition, which has a target of 500 signatures.

Jenny Puckett, who suffers from cellulitis and lymphedema, a condition that causes swelling in her legs, is among those who need more frequent access to toilets.

She said: "If they shut down, I'll have nowhere to go. They need to keep them open."

Read more: 'If these toilets shut down I'll end up wetting myself'

Daily Echo: The Shirley branch of Sainsbury's.The Shirley branch of Sainsbury's.

But a report outlining the grounds of the supermarket's appeal says 74 incidents associated with the toilets occurred over a 12-month period.

It adds: "Although the store’s management has tried to manage the abuse, it has reached a level whereby this is no longer feasible.

"The presence of the toilets has safety implications for staff and members of the public due to the nature of the vandalism and anti-social behaviour taking place within them.

"Sainsbury’s have been in liaison with the police over the past 18 months.

"However, there is very little the police can do without evidence, and it is almost impossible to obtain evidence without constant monitoring of the toilets."

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