Accessible toilets in East Cambs—an opportunity missed

Bathroom Sink, Washroom, Porcelain Basin

On 21 April, Cllr Matt Downey and I proposed a motion to East Cambridgeshire District Council about the need for accessible public toilets across the district.

Conservative councillors refused to debate this proposal at the meeting, but referred it to the Council’s Finance & Assets Committee.

The Committee meets tomorrow, and it’s disappointing to see that they will substantially water down the proposal.

Our motion rightly drew attention to a matter in which the Council’s Conservative administration has failed the community of East Cambridgeshire, and indeed all those who come to visit our district.

  • There is only one fully accessible ‘Changing Places’ toilet in the whole of East Cambridgeshire —at The Hive leisure centre on the A10.
  • East Cambridgeshire was the only district in the county to receive no Government funding at all recently for provision of more accessible toilets—because it didn’t even bother to apply.

Cllr Downey and I proposed a motion which would have put the council in a strong position as a community leader on this issue. However, it’s clear from their amendment that Conservative councillors don’t want to be community leaders, which is deeply disappointing.

Their amendment removes from our motion our proposals to:

  1. Work with businesses and others across East Cambridgeshire to identify premises where a Changing Places toilet could be installed.
  2. Collaborate with them to seek grants or other funding.
  3. Signpost Changing Places toilets for the benefit of visitors.
  4. Ask retailers and leisure outlets to sign their toilets in line with Crohn’s & Colitis UK guidance.
  5. Seek advice from Crohn’s & Colitis UK on information and training for Council staff.

All these were positive proposals which would have benefited residents and visitors alike.

We are realistic enough to know that we cannot achieve the better solution we proposed while we do not run the council. The Conservative amendment will be forced through by sheer weight of numbers.

We will vote against the Conservative proposal to water down our motion, though we will support the motion when it has been amended because it’s better than nothing.

But we will commit to revisiting this as and when we lead East Cambridgeshire District Council, and we promise the people of East Cambridgeshire that we will be better than this.

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