Fully-Accessible Toilet Facility Coming to Frome
Frome will soon benefit from a new, fully-accessible Changing Places disabled toilet facility. Housed within the existing Market Yard toilet block, the new facility will transform access to the town centre for many people with physical and learning disabilities.
Standard disabled toilets are not useable for those who need access to a hoist and changing bed. Thanks to collaboration between the Frome Changing Places campaign group, Frome Town Council, Mendip District Council and Fair Frome Access for All, the location of the toilet has been approved and the necessary funding secured.
Campaigner, Alison Douthwaite said “This will make a massive difference to my daughter’s life. I first raised the issue five years ago, so to hear that it is now being addressed is fantastic. Thanks to some high-profile national stories around the inadequacy of disabled toilet facilities, awareness has really increased recently. Our local campaign built on this and really helped local councils to understand the need and do something about it. There has been real momentum this last year.”
At a recent Cabinet meeting, Mendip District Council agreed that the Market Yard block could be used to house the facility and that the market gazebos currently stored in the room could be moved to make this possible. In addition, they agreed to oversee the building works, to fund the ongoing maintenance of the facility, and identified that £10,000 needed to be found to cover the building works and equipment.
Frome Town Council then voted unanimously to provide this £10,000 so this much-needed bathroom can quickly become a reality. Kate Bielby, Frome Town Councillor said “The town council is delighted to support the campaign for a Changing Places toilet in Frome and provide the final funding required for this to actually happen. We’re very grateful to Mendip District Council who have identified funds, made the building available in Market Yard and who are committed to rolling these facilities out across the district. We look forward to working with them on the conversion and installation work.’
‘Ultimately, this development is thanks to the patience, tenacity and graciousness of the small group of local people who have campaigned for Frome’s very own Changing Place. It’s such a basic right to be able to use a toilet comfortably and safely and this will undoubtedly make a huge difference to the accessibility of Frome.’
Cllr Philip Ham, Portfolio Holder for Transformation and Chair of the Equalities Group, said: “We believe that a vital part of the council is its community leadership role and ability to bring many different groups together to solve local concerns. When our residents identified the lack of facilities we began work across the district to pull in resources and commitment, from a variety of sources, to get this matter tackled.
“Providing these specialist toilets in public places would make a dramatic difference to the lives of thousands of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities as well as others with disabilities that severely limit mobility.
“Currently there are no Changing Places facilities in Mendip and just two in the whole of Somerset, so by providing such facilities in Mendip we will be enabling local people and visitors to our district to get out and enjoy the day to day activities so many of us take for granted.
Adam Boyden, Liberal Democrat councillor for Frome College Ward said “It has been great to work on this cross-party initiative to meet this clear need. There is currently no specific Government funding for Changing Places and no specific legal or planning policy requirement that they be installed. However, research by Somerset County Council and Glastonbury and District Mencap has estimated that Changing Places facilities in the district will benefit over 7700 people in the Mendip district. This is a great start. Thanks to everyone who has helped.”