Gosport Borough Council is looking into changing places facility for the town hall

A ‘CHANGING places’ facility for disabled visitors could soon be installed in Gosport Town Hall, according to reports.

Thursday, 21st February 2019, 4:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st February 2019, 5:05 pm
Gosport Town Hall. Picture: Paul Jacobs (150114-8)

Campaigners have put pressure onto Gosport Borough Council to provide a changing places facility at the town hall, after news that the toilets in the building were set to be refurbished.

Now, councillors have also joined the campaign, with council leader Councillor Mark Hook now saying that they will look into it over the coming weeks.

Concerns were initially raised at Gosport’s full council meeting earlier this month, when Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Peter Chegwyn said that the council had a duty to be as inclusive as possible.

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Cllr Chegwyn said: ‘The council is putting in new toilets anyway and I think that should include a changing places facility.

‘The town hall should be the most disabled-friendly place in Gosport and this is the perfect time to do it.

‘The idea that someone should have to go across to the Discovery Centre is just wrong, especially given that someone else could be using that one or that it could be out of order – as it is at the moment.’

Labour Party leader, Cllr June Cully, believes the councillors should help to pay for the facility, if the council’s budget cannot stretch to it.

She said: ‘I think we should be going ahead with this, especially given our recent pledge as a council to support disabled residents.

‘I think with the tight constraints of the council budget, it is a good solution for councillors to chip in what they can.

‘I think the council leader is keen do it it if we possibly can.’

But Cllr Hook says that money is not the issue, as the council looks at how the facility could fit into the current structure of the town hall.

He explained: ‘We will be looking into the possibility of having a changing places facility.

‘It’s not a question of whether we can afford it, but more the size of the civic wing.

‘We are looking to reconfigure the toilets we currently have with one disabled toilet and two or three unisex ones. It’s a case of what we can design in the space we’ve got.’

Kirsty Smillie, who has been campaigning for changing places across the town, said: ‘It would be fantastic if this happened. No one should be excluded from democracy.

‘Needing a Changing Places toilet does not deem a person cognitively incompetent and this stigma and ignorance must be challenged.

‘With the current one and only changing places toilet at the Discovery Centre being currently out of action, I think there’s a need for more than one in a town centre.

‘We as the Changing Places for Gosport campaign look forward to working with the council to achieve accessible provisions across the town including changing Places toilets, accessible play areas and inclusive access to democracy.’