A DISABILITY rights campaigner has met with a representative from Northwich Town Council to inspect the accessibility of the new outdoor toilets in the town centre.
The toilets, which are located on the site of the town’s new outdoor space, will not be a permanent feature, but will be there until the wider development of Weaver Square takes place.
There were initial concerns as to the accessibility of the toilets, but a ramp is currently being designed – something which could only go ahead once the toilets were in place.
Chris Shaw, town clerk, Northwich Town Council, said: “These toilets were off-the-shelf units from Portacabin, we asked for a fully accessible unit and this is what was suggested.
“This unit is installed in many places throughout the country and has been designed in line with the Equality Act 2010 and best practice.
“A ramp is currently being fabricated as this could only be designed when the unit was in place.
“We ensured that the unit was as close to the ground as possible to reduce the gradient.
“The lights all work and there is a window giving natural light at all times and we can also set any signage to the height required.
“The toilets will be maintained by Northwich Town Council staff and will be cleaned throughout the day, seven days a week.
“Any faults encountered will be rectified quickly by our own staff or contractors to ensure the toilets remain open and working.”
Beverly Greenwood is a disability rights campaigner, Barnton resident, wheelchair and mobility aid user and a steering group member of Cheshire Disabled People Against Cuts.
She met Chris Shaw at the toilet block last week to give her opinion as a disabled person, and suggested ‘a few tweaks’ to the current design.
Beverly recommended that the ramp, which had been designed to come straight out, is changed to a right angle so ‘there is more scope’ and avoids people going into each other.
She also suggested changes to the taps to avoid water splashing onto the floor and placing the signs at a lower level so they can be seen by someone in a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
Chris confirmed that the changes would be made and he would take Beverly’s advice on board.
“I was quite happy about the toilets and I’ve said, as a disabled person, that I would be able to use it by myself,” Beverly said.
“But there is also plenty of room in there for a carer or another person.
“I could turn my wheelchair around and mine is slightly wider than a standard wheelchair.
“You could even get my mobility scooter in there.
“You’re never going to please everyone but they have done the very best they can.
“We would have loved a Changing Places, but they cost a lot and there is quite a long wait – it’s just not justifiable for a temporary toilet.”
Talking generally about issues with access, Beverly explained that disabled people should be consulted more to gain views on accessibility, something she is passionate about raising awareness of.
She said small things like toilet door hooks for bags being lower down and not having a door which needs to be pulled towards you are all things to be considered.
“All we’re asking for is that we are consulted,” she said.
“Asking a disabled person these questions is not offensive – not asking is offensive.
“Unless you’ve had a disability or know someone who has, you don’t know about these little things.
“If you try and see things from a disabled person’s perspective, you’ll see where we are coming from.
“We’re never consulted first and we’re always a second thought.
“We’ve not appeared overnight, we’ve always been here.
“We should not be an afterthought.”