Landmark theme park case could boost Changing Places installations

Example of a Changing Places toilet supplied by Closomat.

The Changing Places campaign, which pushes for the installation of specialist mobility equipment across the UK, could be given a major boost after a disabled boy said he is suing a theme park for failing to provide adequate toilet and changing facilities.

11-year-old Adam George, who is disabled, claimed that Flambards Theme Park, in Cornwall, failed to make reasonable adjustments for him under the Equality Act.

If successful, the case could mean more pressure on organisations and businesses across the UK to invest in Changing Places equipment, which includes ceiling hoists, specialist WCs and changing benches.

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The theme park insisted that it has made adjustments to its toilets and said that it takes inclusion of all visitors seriously. It noted that it could cost more than £40,000 to install a Changing Places facility.

There are currently more than 1,000 Changing Places toilets installed across the UK but some campaigners want them to be a legal requirement in certain public areas.

The Equality Act 2010 states that all service providers have a duty to make “reasonable adjustments” to ensure that, as far as possible, disabled people enjoy the same experience as non-disabled people.

While the boy’s mother noted that she would not expect small cafes and shops to provide Changing Places, she told the BBC that it is reasonable for a theme park to make the adjustments.

Flambards has installed a mobile hoist and a changing bed in an existing disabled toilet as a temporary measure. It said that it was quoted £40,000 on a Changing Places toilet but George’s mother said that one could be installed for £10,000.

Charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, wants to see building regulations changed so that all new buildings over a certain size include Changing Places facilities.

Last year, a Government advisory body urged ministers to make it a requirement that all large builds open to the public include Changing Places toilets.

Recommendations from The Commons Women and Equalities Committee, which was appointed to examine the Government’s performance on equalities issues, stated that the accessible toilets should be a minimum requirement for large developments like large shopping centres.

Further to this, it advised that the action plan on the accessibility of public transport, currently being developed by the Department for Transport, include action to improve the availability of accessible and Changing Places toilets in transport infrastructure.

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