Nottingham councillors say rough sleepers would be affected worst if charges are introduced at the Greyhound Street public toilets.
The proposal was one of the most unpopular in a recent consultation on the city’s urgent budget cuts.
More than 5,000 people took part in a recent consultation on sweeping money-saving measures – nearly ten times the previous record.
However, there are fears charges at the city centre loos – which would bring in £64,000 per year – may be unavoidable in order to get government support.
It is part of a raft of savings to close the council’s looming budget gaps of £23m this financial year and £53m next year.
The list of items have been drawn up by council officers, and not all have been informally accepted by the Labour-run Executive.
Councillor Neghat Nawaz Khan (Lab) told a meeting of the council’s Housing and City Development Committee the toilets should remain free.
“This is awful for people sleeping rough or who are homeless. We can’t ask them to spend money they don’t have every time they need the toilet,” she said.
“At least shoppers can buy something and use a shop’s toilets – but no business will let someone come off the street.”
The budget cuts look at all services that the council isn’t legally required to provide.
Councillor Sarita-Marie Rehman-Wall (Lab) said: “Providing public toilets may not be a statutory requirement, but cleaning streets is, and if homeless people have nowhere to go to the toilet then that will end up costing us more.”
However, the council has applied for Exceptional Funding Support from the government, and Councillor Steve Battlemuch (Lab) said that they may ultimately require the council to make the cuts as a condition.
“This proposal attracted a whole lot of comments during the public consultation, and will clearly cause issues if there is a charge,” he said.
“Unfortunately, these toilets get vandalised frequently, so the cost and maintenance are higher than you would think.
“The implication from government is that the council will have to accept all of the proposals before the government will talk about bridging the gap.
“It feels like consultation is meaningless, which is incredibly disappointing given it was our biggest ever.”
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which is responsible for allocating the funding, have been contacted for comment.
The Executive committee will recommend its budget for 2024/25 on Tuesday, February 13.