Chris Pincher has welcomed the launch of a consultation on improving the provision of Changing Places toilets.
The consultation which was launched yesterday, puts forward proposals to create these types of facilities in specific new, large buildings visited by the public. Tamworth is soon to receive one in our Castle Grounds during the public toilet rebuild in early summer thanks to funding and backing from Tamworth Borough Council but there are many places without access to such facilities.
The consultation seeks views on the thresholds at which the facilities will be made mandatory in new or largely refurbished buildings of different types, such as overall floor space, visitor numbers or attendance capacity. It also seeks views on the size of Changing Places toilets as well as the range of equipment that must be included.
Changing Places toilets are larger accessible toilets for severely disabled people, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and enough space for carers. They also feature a number of smaller features, places to place clothing if you have to change your stoma bag or lower and larger bins for pad disposal.
There are over 1,300 Changing Places toilets in the United Kingdom, up from just 140 in 2007, but many more are needed to support the more than a quarter of a million people who need them in the United Kingdom. There are more people than ever making use of electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters, continence pads, walking sticks and other aids and this can make public toilet use tricky, Changing Places hopes to make our high streets and tourist attractions more appealing, accessible and disabled friendly for all.
The proposals, if implemented, are expected to add the toilets to more than 150 new buildings a year, including shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadiums and arts venues.
It is clear that increasing the provision of Changing Places toilets will give disabled people and their families the opportunity to visit public places which they otherwise would not be able to and can therefore make a huge difference to their quality of life. I have had a number of residents write in to me saying they feel they cannot go shopping due to lack of facilities, I hope this consultation is the start of country-wide changes to make all places much more accessible.
The consultation closes on 21 July and can be found online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changing-places-toilets