Disabled woman wants council to improve loo

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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WHEELCHAIR-USER Gillian Dear is calling on people to help her prove a disabled toilet isn’t accessible enough.

She says the council-owned toilet near the Gosport Ferry pontoon isn’t good enough.

(left) Suzanne Pepper and Gillian Dear.

(left) Suzanne Pepper and Gillian Dear.

Although Gosport Borough Council has confirmed the loo meets legal requirements, Gillian wants the authority to put in a power-assisted door.

She said: ‘What I would like to do is to challenge people.

‘It meets the legal requirements but it is not accessible unless you have got help.

‘If you use a chair, it is a heavy door.

‘It’s about independence; everyone’s disability is different but if you were in a wheelchair you would find it difficult to hold the door open and go in.’

Gillian, who suffers from a neurological condition, said a lot of people are willing to help her and others in wheelchairs but she says not being able to open the door hinders her independence.

But she added: ‘People are getting much better about thinking about accessibility.’

Gillian of Elmore Road, in Lee-on-the-Solent, says the problem is with manual wheelchairs and that electric wheelchair users can access the toilet.

Now she wants people to get in touch so she can prove it’s a problem to Gosport’s council.

She’s asking wheelchair users to get together for a mass attempt at getting into the toilet.

Labour Town ward councillor Diane Searle said: ‘They should have provided for disabled people. I’d like to see something done about it.

‘I don’t know how she manages. That’s terrible.

‘I will bring it up with the council and see what they can do.’

Stevyn Ricketts is the head of streetscene at the borough council, which maintains the toilet block.

He said: ‘It’s compliant but I’m aware of the lady’s issue and we’re currently investigating automatic door opening assists.’

Conservative Councillor Graham Burgess is chairman of the community board.

He said he will meet Gillian and try and get into the toilet in a wheelchair.

‘I will sit in a wheelchair and try to do that,’ he said.

Anyone who wants to get in touch with Gillian should email gosportopforum@hotmail.co.uk