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Falling short in avoiding being ‘caught short’

  • Claire Haymes

Stoke Bus Station

If we need the toilet when travelling in the UK, our ability to find somewhere suitable is now in the lap of the Gods…

The Department for Transport Accessibility Action Plan’s consultation process has now closed. Sadly, for the potentially millions for whom a conventional wheelchair-accessible toilet is actually Inaccessible, there was no mention in the original draft of toilet provision. 

Fortunately, the Women & Equalities Select Committee, which earlier this year called for greater provision of assisted, accessible faculties aka Changing Places, has taken the matter to heart. Its Chair has written to the Transport Minister calling for them to be considered for the transport network. 

But therein lies the rub- “considered’. 

As per the Equality Act, and Building Regulations, there is no insistence. In those two, legal requirements, Changing Places are only “desirable’. Yet without such facilities, people who need help can’t go to the toilet when away from home- be it shopping, or using our transport network. 

Yet, to quote the DfT’s Accessibility Action Plan: “Our ambition is to deliver a transport system which is accessible to all whatever their background or characteristics……There is a need for all who work in the pedestrian and built environment sector to increase their understanding of the needs of disabled people.” 

Maybe they need to spend the day in a wheelchair, or imagining their have a continence issue. How would they cope? 

We have said many times before that the law needs to be changed. A truly universal toilet should be the benchmark. Other variants- including separate male, female, baby change- maybe become the ‘nice to have if space permits’. 

Only then do the toilets become accessible to all “whatever their background and characteristics”. 

Including an assisted accessible toilet isn’t difficult. If Stoke Bus Station, Port Talbot Station and Portsmouth International Port, to name just a few, can find the space and the will, surely sites with bigger m2, footfall, and £, can do it too?

Closomat Limited, Building 1, Brooklands Place, Brooklands Road, Sale Cheshire, M33 3SD