Scandal of Lancashire's disabled toilets

Too many disabled toilets in Lancashire do not meet basic standards
Too many disabled toilets in Lancashire do not meet basic standards

Lancashire residents with disabilities are being let down by a lack of fully-accessible toilets.

It is a situation reflected across the UK, with charity Muscular Dystrophy UK warning that a lack of facilities is "failing disabled people".

Disabled toilets with a changing bench, hoist, privacy screen and space for two carers are the only facilities that qualify as fully-accessible Changing Places, according to Government policy.

Research by Muscular Dystrophy UK shows that 30 toilets in Lancashire meet these criteria - equivalent to just 2.5 toilets per 100,000 people.

Provision varies considerably across the UK. Residents in Scotland have the best access, with 3.6 toilets per 100,000 population, while London has less than one per 100,000.

Across the UK, just 18 pubs, restaurants and cafes have a Changing Places toilet, and less than one per cent of railway stations have fully-accessible facilities.

Muscular Dystrophy UK said the figures, released to mark Changing Places Awareness Day on July 19, "paint a disappointing picture".

Head of policy and campaigns Clare Lucas said: "Everyone deserves to use the toilet safely and with dignity, but the 250,000 disabled people who need assistance to use the toilet are being excluded from society because there aren't enough accessible toilets.

"Without enough of these vital facilities, people are being forced to cut trips short, stay at home, or even consider options as extreme as surgery.

"Going to the toilet is a basic human right, but too many disabled people are being denied this."

Charity Disability Rights UK added that the majority of standard disabled toilets are not fitted with adequate support equipment.

Chief executive Kamran Mallick said: "Standard toilets are designed to provide sufficient space, and other facilities such as grab handles.

"Changing Places go further, with additional equipment, such as height adjustable changing benches and overhead hoist systems."

According to Muscular Dystrophy UK, there have been positive developments in the campaign for fully-accessible toilets over the last 12 months.

In May, the Government launched a consultation on making the facilities mandatory in new, large public buildings.

The Department for Transport is also providing £2m in funding to install fully-accessible toilets at motorway service stations in England.

Local Government Minister Rishi Sunak said: “We are determined to increase the number of Changing Places so people with disabilities have the freedom to enjoy days out in dignity and comfort.

“We are consulting on proposals that would add these life-enhancing facilities to more than 150 new buildings a year, including shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadiums and arts venues.

“I would like to encourage everyone to have their say before the consultation closes.”