Improving accessibility across the transport network

A couple of years ago I was delighted to be at County Mall for the opening of their Changing Places toilet.

Such facilities are larger, accessible toilets for disabled people with equipment such as hoists and adult-sized changing benches, as well as enough space for carers.

An announcement in recent weeks will lead to more of these accessible toilets around the country.

There are already more than 1,300 Changing Places toilets throughout the UK; while this is a huge increase from only 140 in 2007, more are needed to assist the over a quarter of a million people in this country who need them.

The plans would ensure that new or majorly refurbished large buildings used by the public will need to have Changing Places toilets for severely disabled people. It is expected this expansion will add the toilets to more than 150 new buildings a year, including shopping centres, supermarkets, stadiums and cinemas.

The Government’s proposals have now been put out to a public consultation, which is open until 21st July, with submissions being analysed over the summer ahead of a formal response from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

These measures are part of wider moves to improve accessibility. In April, the Department for Transport confirmed a £2 million fund to ensure more service stations in England can become fully accessible for disabled passengers with more Changing Places toilets.

Additional action being taken includes efforts to increase provision of Talking Buses for blind and partially sighted people, and in recent weeks I have followed up with the Transport Minister, Nus Ghani, over when we will see further updates following a call for evidence undertaken last year.

With greater accessibility across the transport network, we can ensure that everyone has the freedom to travel and enjoy days out in dignity and comfort.

Henry Smith MP