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Falmouth pay to pee toilet barriers removed 'within hours'
3:09pm Wednesday 11th December 2013 in News
Within hours of Cornwall Council admitting disabled people had effectively been barred from using the toilets on Falmouth’s Prince of Wales Pier, the “illegal barriers” had been removed.
After months of campaigning by local residents, Dave and Sarah Culling, and the chair of Disability Cornwall, Steve Paget, the council was prompted into action after receiving a call from a Packet reporter.
Mr and Mrs Culling had sent and received over 100 emails since July, but it wasn’t until the council issued a statement in response to the Packet’s query, which was received after our deadline, that action was taken.
The paddle gates, which had been installed in July, were removed last Wednesday and will not be replaced meaning the toilets will revert to being free of charge. The town council is due to take them over in April and had indicated it intended to scrap the charges.
Cornwall Council’s statement read: “At 770mm, the doors to the accessible toilet at the Prince of Wales Pier in Falmouth meet the minimum width standards under building regulations in relation to access for wheelchair users within an existing building.
“However, working within the confines of the listed building, the gates have reduced the overall width of the entrance and we have recently been made aware that some users of the facilities do not have the same access as they did before.
“To address this we will remove the paddle gates and will be liaising with the contractors who fitted them to ensure full consideration of these issues takes place for future schemes.”
While Mr Culling welcomed the news, he was disappointed action wasn’t taken much earlier. “It has taken so long for them to come forward and hold their hands up to this,” he said.
“They didn’t do their homework and having had it pointed out to them in July, they chose to ignore it until now. It’s just a pity that they have wasted thousands of pounds of tax payers’ money.”
Mr Paget added: “Disability Cornwall is delighted to learn that our intervention and support of David and Sarah Culling has resulted in the removal of the barriers to accessible toilets in Falmouth.
“We now await a response from Cornwall Council on what action they will take with accessible toilets in Marazion and Bude, where disabled people were similarly affected.
“The waste of public funds is of great concern to us, as is the failure of the Cornwall Council to competently interpret relevant legislation on such matters. As ever, Disability Cornwall will look to support disabled people to |challenge discriminatory practice.”
Cornwall Council member for the Penwerris ward, Hanna Toms, said: “The charging barriers stopped people in wheelchairs being able to access the facility in this central part of town.
The charging was not popular anyway but when it leads to people not even being able to spend a penny it’s really not good enough. We need to be providing the best facilities for disabled users not the very minimum requirements.”
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