At the end of this month, the possibility of Changing Places toilets becoming a legal requirement potentially draws a step closer. The private members bill Toilets Provision and Accessibility is due for a further reading in the House of Commons on January 25.
It still has a long way to go: through the Commons, the Lords and then for Royal Assent. The bill seeks , as a minimum, the provision of Changing Places toilets mandatory in large new builds, complexes with public access, or sites where visitors can reasonably be expected to spend long periods of time.
The Bill maintains that the current Regulations (Approved Document M 2015 and British Standards BS8300:2018) do not go far enough. In those, a Changing Places “should” be provided. There is no obligation, it is down to discretion. The Bill emphases that simply labelling a facility as “disabled” or “accessible” does not guarantee that it will be suitable. Most do not have a hoist system or a large changing bench. Disabled and accessible toilets have been found with no level access, and with heavy or narrow doors that are not automated, often with unsuitable or unclean handles and locks.
It further highlights the difficulty in creating one facility that meets everyone’s needs: “Some people need bright fluorescent lights or air fresheners to reduce anxiety, whereas those can lead to sensory overload for others.”
With ‘disabled’ toilets it is impossible to create a ‘one size fits all’ concept. A Changing Places facility goes a long way to meeting the needs of the majority.
But it will only become law if backed by sufficient MPs. This is your chance to make a change. Lobby your MP to participate in the vote, to make your voice heard. After all, you elected your MP, their job is to represent YOU. Write, email, tweet, phone...use every medium at your disposal.
Getting the Bill passed into law if the first step. To plagiarise Neil Armstrong, it is “one small step for man, but a giant leap for mankind”, to make Changing Places a legal requirement in at least some buildings. Then we can turn our attention to the others- the supermarkets, cinemas, town centres where research shows people not only want them, but need them.