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Case Study: Liverpool


Theme – Individual Toilet Campaign


The plaque commemorating the opening of the toilet facilities by Mr Cole. (Bichard 2006) Vivacity 2020In late 2004 the research team was contacted by Mr Len Cole, through one of the user support networks we had been working with. Mr Cole described how he had enquired about accessible toilet facilities at a central railway station in Liverpool and had been directed to the nearest fast food outlet. The station’s existing facilities were of a standard design and were not suitable for Mr Cole’s toileting needs. Angered by the lack of accessible toilets, Mr Cole complained to the railway station operators Merseyrail, who took Mr Cole’s complaint on board and began a renovation scheme on the station’s existing toilet facilities, to include accessible and baby-changing provision, as well as re-building the existing standard toilet provision.


During the campaign, Mr Cole contacted a local radio station to draw attention to the lack of toilets for people with disabilities and received widespread support. Throughout the campaign, mostly conducted through telephone calls, Mr Cole regularly contacted the research team to discuss the progress of the campaign and the renovation work.


The toilets were opened in June 2006, with a ceremony attended by Merseyrail’s Managing Director, local councillors and Mr Cole, in which a plaque in honour of Mr Cole’s campaign was unveiled. The ceremony was covered in the local press and radio. A spokesman from Merseyrail commented that Mr Cole’s involvement was a ‘catalyst’ for the company to get funding to build the facilities, adding that his ‘involvement’ and valuable input was ‘instrumental in getting the toilets built (reported in the Liverpool Daily Post June 2006).


The research team was given the opportunity to include the toilet facilities within its study. An audit of the facilities revealed that Merseyrail had installed two accessible toilets, one incorporating left hand transfer and the other for users who preferred to transfer onto the WC pan from the right hand side. The left hand transfer cubicle had included 30 of the 50 recommended design features, whilst the right hand transfer cubicle had incorporated 27 features. Both toilets ranked in the top 15 of 101 facilities we audited around England. Specific features that complied with design guidance included the provision of a colostomy shelf, an alarm reset button in reach of the WC pan, the correct height WC pan and colour contrast grab rails. Features that had not been incorporated within the toilets included the provision of coat hooks or mirrors both over the basin and full length. Both toilets were 120mm short of the recommended width of 1500mm, yet both cubicles had an extended depth of 2550mm (right hand cubicle) and 2610mm (left hand cubicle). An interesting anomaly within the fitting of the cubicles was that the right hand side transfer cubicle had the flush handle fitted on the correct transfer side of the cistern, whilst the left hand side cubicle had it fitted on the ‘wrong’ side, closest to the wall.


Mr Cole described the toilets in the local press coverage as ‘absolutely wonderful’, adding that although some people felt the toilets would never be built, he felt it was worth ‘the fight’ as eventually people would get not only what they want, but what they need.


Mr Cole continues to campaign on his own for better toilet provision. His other successes include the moving of an accessible cubicle at a motorway service station. In this case the accessible cubicle was too close to the ladies’ facilities and had resulted in men with disabilities being accused of entering the ladies’ toilets. Mr Cole complained directly to the management and subsequently the accessible toilets were moved to a more suitable position. Currently Mr Cole is in correspondence with a national supermarket chain regarding the provision of essential stock within its provision of accessible toilets.


Whilst Mr Cole does have a disability, he feels that addressing the failures of current accessible provision is primarily not about his own personal needs but those of all people with disabilities. His example shows that, by going about things the right way, even one individual working alone can make an impact.

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