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23 October 2018

Meeting with Government Departments about Changing Places toilets 

 

Last week, members of the Consortium met with representatives from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Department for Transport and Department for Work and Pensions to discuss how we could all work together to increase Changing Places toilet provision and awareness. What follows is a summary of the key updates from the meeting and our plans for working together moving forward. Please note that the focus of this meeting was on England given the scope of the Departments present. 

 

Department for Transport

They are currently reviewing responses to a consultation that will inform their new Accessibility Action Plan which is due to be published in Spring and will form guidance around accessible travel. We have asked to see draft plans if possible to ensure that Changing Places toilets are adequately included. The Department have also been in conversations with Motorway Service providers, sparked by Zack Kerr’s petition, to encourage them to install more Changing Places toilets. We were told that positive conversations had taken place with a number of providers who have committed to creating a network of service stations with Changing Places toilets. We emphasised the importance of all service stations providing Changing Places toilets so that people are able to easily access facilities when travelling. Some companies had said that cost was a barrier to installation but we highlighted the case of Cornwall Services who were able to provide a Changing Places toilet for around £6,000. We also suggested mobile, modular and other Changing Places toilet solutions as an alternative. We hope that these conversations, combined with the hard work of campaigners like Zack, will result in more service stations installing Changing Places toilets.

 

Department for Work and Pensions

Changing Places toilets have been a focus for the Minister for Disabled People for a number of years. The new Minister, Sarah Newton MP, is continuing the Department's commitment to support the work of the Changing Places Consortium. We have agreed to meet up again separately to identify how we can work together to improve awareness and provision of Changing Places toilets. In the meantime, the Department have a meeting coming up with the UK cinema association and promised to push the issue of Changing Places toilets. They have also committed to looking at how we can engage sector champions, whose role it is to drive improvements to the accessibility and quality of services and facilities in their sector, with the Changing Places campaign.

 

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

The Consortium has had a longstanding relationship with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government who provided the funding to create the Changing Places map which was launched back in 2015. They have recently finished reviewing the British Standard and have strengthened the list of buildings included, meaning that Changing Places toilets are now recommended for the following building types:

  • Transport buildings
  • Industrial buildings
  • Administrative and commercial buildings
  • Health and welfare buildings
  • Refreshment, entertainment and recreation buildings
  • Religious buildings and associated facilities
  • Educational, cultural and scientific buildings
  • Residential buildings (e.g. nursing, residential and care homes, student accommodation, common parts of blocks of flats)
  • Temporary structures accessible to or usable by the general public

In addition to looking at the British Standards, they have also been carrying out research looking at Approved Document M within Building Regulations and are hoping to publish their findings soon. We are still working to secure a meeting with the Secretary of State following Rishi Sunak MP’s Prime Ministers Question last year around Changing Places toilets.

 

Next steps

A lot of the meeting was focussed on discussions of how we could strengthen regulations in England to ensure that Changing Places toilets are included in the planning and building stage. Guidance is still advisory rather than mandatory which means there is no legal requirement on buildings to provide Changing Places toilets. We all agreed that some of the key areas of focus for us moving forward are:

  1. How we can strengthen Approved Document M and planning policy so that Changing Places toilets become mandatory for new builds.
  2. How we can influence local plan making to make sure that Changing Places toilet provision is a key consideration.
  3. How we can utilise the Equality Act to challenge venues that refuse to provide Changing Places toilets.
  4. How we can develop clear guidance on how venues can renovate to include a Changing Places toilet.
  5. How we can generate more data and research to demonstrate the need for Changing Places toilets and the financial benefits of installing.

We will keep you updated on how these areas progress. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments please do email us on changingplaces@musculardystrophyuk.org

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