‘Very positive’ response from Mid and East Antrim Council over Changing Places
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has reiterated support for the provision of a Changing Places toilet facility at public events.
The local authority has recommended that provision of Changing Places is “considered and promoted at public events” in its response to a public consultation on proposals for changes to building regulations for inclusion of this facility in new buildings.
Changing Places include changing benches, hoists and space for two carers. The equipment costs approximately £15,000. There are 42 in Northern Ireland.
The purpose of the proposed policy change is to make the provision of Changing Places toilets a minimum requirement in certain larger new buildings such as shopping centres.
The local authority has already given a commitment to providing Changing Places for disabled people as funding becomes available.
A report to councillors states that building regulations only apply when building work is taking place and do not apply retrospectively for existing buildings.
However when sanitary facilities are being provided in a building, they must be “no less available for disabled people”.
The borough council has urged full consideration of buildings which may require future provision and a survey of locations where Changing Places have been provided voluntarily to be carried out but has opposed future proposals for inclusion in small or medium-sized commercial premises.
The council also noted that it has “experienced particular challenges in providing Changing Places in an existing leisure centre”.
“However a solution was achieved and implemented,” the response noted,
Mid and East Antrim Council has committed to providing Changing Places at leisure centres in Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus. Temporary provision was made at Carnfunnock Country Park outside Larne this summer and at the People’s Park in Ballymena and will be included in a new toilet block at Larne Town Park.
Speaking at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim’s Borough Growth Committee on Monday evening, the council’s head of planning, Paul Duffy, told members that the proposals would not place any financial burden on small / medium sized businesses.
Coast Road Alliance Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna commented: “I think this is great to see and is certainly welcome. Anything that provides more accessibility and more inclusiveness for everybody is excellent.”
Coast Road DUP Councillor Andrew Clarke said: “Every human being has value, worth and dignity and we want to reflect that in society and especially want to reflect that for those most vulnerable.”
Larne Lough Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly who has lobbied the council for Changing Places, described the local authority’s response to the consultation as “very positive”.
“It is great to see council taking the opportunity that Changing Places are considered at all public events. Council is providing a fit for purpose service for all sections of the community. Buildings designed to be inclusive should be able to be used by all people.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter
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