Incapacity rights campaigner pleased with accessibility at city’s new public bathrooms

A disability rights activist met with a representative from Northwich Town Council to check the accessibility of the new outside toilets in the city center.

The toilets, located on the site of the city’s new exterior space, will not be a permanent fixture but will remain there until further development of Weaver Square takes place.

Initially, there were concerns about the accessibility of the toilets, but a ramp is currently being planned – which may only be possible after the toilets have been set up.

Chris Shaw, City Clerk, Northwich Town Council said, “These toilets were standard Portacabin units, we asked for a fully accessible unit and this was suggested.

“This device is installed in many locations across the country and is designed in accordance with the Equality Act 2010 and best practices.

“A ramp is currently being made because it could only be constructed when the unit was in place.

“We made sure that the device was as close to the ground as possible to reduce the incline.

“The lights all work and there is a window that allows natural light at all times and we can also adjust any signage to the required height.

“The toilets are serviced and cleaned all day, seven days a week by Northwich Town Council staff.

“Any malfunctions are quickly resolved by our own employees or contractors to ensure that the toilets remain open and functional.”

Beverly Greenwood is a disability rights activist, Barnton resident, wheelchair user and wheelchair user, and a steering group member for the Cheshire Disabled People Against Cuts.

She met Chris Shaw in the toilet block last week to share her opinion as a disabled person and suggested “a few tweaks” to the current design.

Beverly recommended that the ramp, which was designed to come straight out, be changed to a right angle to give “more leeway” and to prevent people from falling into one another.

She also suggested changing the faucets to avoid water splashing on the floor and putting the signs on a lower level so they can be seen by people in wheelchairs or electric scooters.

Chris confirmed the changes would be made and he would heed Beverly’s advice.

“I was very happy with the toilets and said that as a disabled person I could use them on my own,” said Beverly.

“But there is also plenty of space for a carer or another person.

“I could turn my wheelchair around and mine is a little wider than a standard wheelchair.

“You could even bring my mobility scooter in there.

“You will never please everyone, but they did their best.

“We would have liked a changing room, but it costs a lot and the waiting time is quite long – it just can’t be justified for a temporary toilet.”

Regarding general accessibility issues, Beverly stated that people with disabilities should be consulted more often for views on the accessibility issues that she is passionate about raising awareness.

She said little things like toilet door hooks for bags below and no door to pull to one are all considered.

“All we ask is that we be consulted,” she said.

“To ask these questions of a disabled person is not offensive – not to ask is offensive.

“Unless you’ve had a disability or know someone who does, you don’t know about these little things.

“If you try to see things from the perspective of a disabled person, you will see where we come from.

“We are never consulted first and we are always a second thought.

“We didn’t show up overnight, we’ve always been here.

“We shouldn’t be an afterthought.”

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