Disabled users claim victory over council U-turn on Falmouth loos pay barriers
DISABLED people are claiming a victory after Cornwall Council made U-turn over pay barriers at toilets in Falmouth.
The barriers were installed at the Prince of Wales Pier facilities in July, charging users 20p.
Disabled campaigners David and Sarah Culling told Cornwall Council the gates were not compliant with disabled access regulations in July, asking for them to be removed.
In August Cornwall Council said the barriers met legal requirements and would not remove them, despite lobbying from wheelchair users who said they were unable to access the loos.
But yesterday Cornwall Council announced it would remove the barriers.
Mr Culling said: “I’m pleased but I’m angry because they have been totally unwilling to remove the barriers, even though Disability Cornwall’s chairman himself said they are not complaint.
“The council has chosen to waste shed loads of council tax payers’ money.
“Now they have been backed into a corner because they realise they have cocked up.”
A spokesman for Disability Cornwall said it made the council aware of the complaints on November 18.
“We made the council aware that we have received a number of complaints and these changes to the accessible toilets have made them inaccessible to many disabled people.”
“They logged it and we heard nothing until today.”
A statement from Cornwall council yesterday said: “At 770mm, the doors to the accessible toilet at the Prince of Wales Pier in Falmouth meet the minimum width standards under building regulations in relation to access for wheelchair users within an existing building.
“However, working within the confines of the listed building, the gates have reduced the overall width of the entrance and we have recently been made aware that some users of the facilities do not have the same access as they did before.
“To address this we will remove the paddle gates and will be liaising with the contractors who fitted them to ensure full consideration of these issues takes place for future schemes.
Cornwall Councillor for Falmouth Penwerris, Hanna Toms, said: “I am absolutely delighted and I hope lessons are learnt at other sites across Cornwall.
“It has been a colossal waste of money and I would not like to see that repeated.”
A Disability Cornwall spokesman said: “Cornwall Council had installed barriers which prevented many disabled people from being able to use the facilities.
“These changes appear to have taken affect without the necessary access considerations being fully thought through.
“Local campaigners have been vocal in trying to reverse what appears to be a change that discriminates against disabled people.”