Campaigners celebrate decision on new disabled loo

New toilets on the way for severely disabled people in Barnstaple town centre.

CAMPAIGNERS have been celebrating a decision to approve funding for a special disabled toilet in Barnstaple town centre.

North Devon Council will allocate �100,000 to improve public toilets at the bus station, as well as provide North Devon’s first ‘Changing Places’ toilet, specialist facilities for people with profound and multiple physical disabilities.

In May this year, a petition with 1,768 signatures was presented to the council by Braunton woman Sue Tucker, who suffers from genetic disease spinal muscular atrophy.

Sue, 45, told the Gazette she had been campaigning for a dedicated town centre toilet for more than four years.

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She said: “It’s been a long hard campaign but this toilet is going to make a big difference to people who need it.”

The toilet refurbishment will start later this year, with the project expected to be completed by next spring.

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Once finished, there will be five unisex toilets, separate urinals and one Changing Places unit, along with baby changing facilities and a standard disabled toilet.

The council’s executive member for environment, Councillor Rodney Cann, said: “We built the bus station in 1999 and it’s been a great success. The toilets, which are really well used, are now in need of refurbishment, but rather than a simple like-for-like replacement, we want to ensure we’re improving our facilities to make them better and even more accessible for customers.

“For many years, local disabled people and their carers have identified a need for this facility in the district. As a result, we have been looking for a suitable location to provide this special facility.

“I’m delighted that we’re finally able to bring this to the town, as part of this refurbishment project.”

Sue said she would now continue to lobby for similar facilities throughout North Devon.

“It’s been a long hard campaign and we’ve not going to stop now,” she said.

“Asda have told us that they are committed to putting a Changing Places toilet in their proposed new store at Anchorwood Bank, subject to planning permission, and we are still waiting for a toilet at North Devon District Hospital to be fully equipped.

“But we want more of these toilets throughout North Devon, starting with popular places like Bideford and Ilfracombe,” she added.

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