A requirement to provide at least 24 hours notice to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council should anyone wish to use an accessible toilet at a local park will be removed when work to fit an external door is complete, Council has confirmed.
At present, those who wish to use the changing places toilet at Portadown’s People’s Park are required to notify Council at least 24 hours before they intend to use the facility.
Changing places toilets are designed so they are completely accessible and provide sufficient space and equipment for people who are not able to use the toilet independently.
The issue was raised at Council’s monthly meeting on August 23, by Councillor Julie Flaherty who said the issue at Portadown’s People’s Park must not be allowed to happen again and urged Council to work quickly to fix the situation.
Following her comments, Council’s strategic director of neighbourhood services, Sharon O’Gorman confirmed the problem would be addressed following the installation of a external door that can be accessed via a special key allowing entry to such facilities (known as a radar key).
It was also clarified that this work would be financed through existing budgets.
“It would be remiss of me not to raise this and say that it simply cannot happen again with these facilities,” said Cllr Flaherty during Council’s monthly meeting.
“I have emails going back as far September 2018 regarding disabled toilets being locked because something is damaged or broken. These toilets are no different to any other facility and this cannot happen again.
“I know there is a paper coming to committee but I will settle for nothing less than an external door with a radar key, end of story. These facilities have been too hard fought for, for this to be happening.”
Councillor Eamon McNeill said he too had been contacted about the issue and having raised it with officers, was awaiting a report that he expected to be brought before committee in September.
In response to these comments, Council’s strategic director of neighbourhood services, Sharon O’Gorman told the chamber Council was aware of the problem and was working to address the issue.
“We are aware of the issues in relation to the changing places toilets and are looking to put in place a more user friendly approach through an external door,” said Ms O’Gorman.
“This will be picked up through Council’s maintenance budgets.”