Mid Sussex District Council have come under fire from local disability campaigners for failing to include a 'Changing Places' toilet facility in the town's £65 million redevelopment of the Martlets Shopping Centre.
What Is A Changing Places Toilet Facility?
Unlike a standard disabled toilet facility - which is designed for the elderly and wheelchair users who have the use of their upperbody and can sit on a toilet - a changing places facility caters for people suffering from profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people.
'Changing Places' has more space (12sq metres) and the right equipment (costing up to £15k) which includes a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist. It enables the use of a toilet in safety and comfort, and most importantly, with dignity.
Without such a facility, people are faced with being changed on the germ-ridden floors of normal public toilets, with very little space to carry out the care needed.
There are currently over 850 'changing places' toilets in the country, the number is growing rapidly as new developments are incorporating them into their plans.
A town with a 'changing places' facility becomes much more attractive to visitors with disabled family members who have issues using the toilet. Without them, visits have to be cut short - or the location not visited at all.
Agreed Toilet Provision In The Town Centre
As part of the negotiations between MSDC and NewRiver Retail, the council decided that the public toilet block outside Burgess Hill Library did not need to be reprovided as NewRiver Retail said fashion retailer 'Next' would make their customer toilets available as they'd be having an in-store cafe.
Questioning The Council
When a campaigner questioned the council on their lack of forward-thinking, they were told that because the town did not already have a changing places facility, then there was no requirement for it to be reprovided in the new development.
The council claimed that they had looked to provide one, but it just wasn't possible. However, they did say that they would support having a changing places facility in future developments, if possible - a comment which has angered the parent of a disabled child....
Mum On A Mission
Laura Moore has blogged emotively about her communications with Mid Sussex District Council over the changing places toilets here: http://www.mumoam.co.uk/single-post/2016/07/05/If-not-now-then-when - a highly recommended read which will explain things better than your reporter ever could
Considering all the concessions that Mid Sussex District Council have made to allow NewRiver Retail to make millions of pounds in profit on the redevelopment - which includes the surrendering of public assets such as the non replacement of the Martlets Hall - and not requiring any Section 106 contributions, then it's simply astounding that they couldn't even work a mere 12sqm room into the plans to make Burgess Hill a truely accessible destination for people with disabilities.
It may not have been a legal requirement, but what about doing the right thing?
This is really quite shameful.
|Spread the word, the district council have missed a golden opportunity to make Burgess Hill town centre 'disabled friendly'
Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
What do you think to the council failing to put a 'changing places' toilet facility into the £65 million redevelopment of Burgess Hill town centre?
The town council shout about being 'dementia friendly' but what about /disabled friendly?
Are you disabled or a carer of a disabled person? Tell us of your troubles with public toilets and what difference a changing places facility could make to you.