Row breaks out over who should have a disabled toilet key

Disability campaigners have said the radar keys, used to open the toilets after hours, should only be given to disabled people
Disability campaigners have said the radar keys, used to open the toilets after hours, should only be given to disabled people

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A ROW has broken out over who should be allowed to use keys to disabled public toilets after they have closed.

Disability campaigners say the radar keys, which are sold by Havant Borough Council for £3 each, should only be given to disabled people.

They allow the key holder to use the toilets after they have been locked up for the day.

In other towns and cities councils only give the keys to people who can prove they are disabled but in Havant anyone can buy one.

Eve Tallyn is vice-chairman of Waterlooville and District Residents’ Association.

She said: ‘I am registered disabled and find this quite out of order.

‘I have been in contact with Disability Rights UK and they agree with me that the radar key was initially brought into use for disabled and infirm people.

‘This means that the toilets have a wider access for scooters and pushchairs – not baby changing facilities – and for parents with disabled children.

’Where is Havant coming from?

‘They are issuing them to anybody who requests them.’

In a message to residents, the council advertises the keys to anyone who is ‘caught short’ to use in public toilets across the borough and nationwide.

In a statement to The News Peter Vince, the council’s operational service manager, said: ‘Currently radar keys can be purchased without proof of disability.

‘We’re very aware of the concern regarding the potential increased use of accessible public toilet facilities but to date there has been no recorded detrimental impact.

‘In an effort to minimise any impact on disabled people we are investigating alternative ways of increasing access to public toilet facilities at key locations within the borough.

‘When this has been implemented and publicised people will be encouraged to buy keys and make use of these facilities.’

The idea for the radar key came from the Royal Association of Disability and Rehabilitation, known as radar.

It is now part of Disability Rights UK after merging with Disability Alliance and the National Centre for Independent Living in January 2012.

It still co-ordinates all things radar key-related today.