Council to further explore funding for Changing Places facilities across the borough
Elected members on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have agreed that the issue of funding for the future provision of Changing Places facilities within Council buildings be further explored with the Finance Minister.
Changing Places facilities – which are toilets equipped with a changing bench, hoist, privacy screen and space for two carers – are to be made mandatory for new buildings in Northern Ireland, the Minister Conor Murphy pledged last month.
When they open in April 2021, the new Larne Town Park toilets will be Council’s first Changing Places facility in the borough.
The proposed new £25million leisure centre for Ballymena, at the former St Patrick’s Barracks site, will also feature Changing Places facilities when it is complete.
When funding becomes available, Council will make applications for similar facilities to be installed at Larne and Carrickfergus Leisure Centres, The People’s Park and Carnfunnock Country Park.
At the October meeting of Full Council, elected members agreed that Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy, write again to the Finance Minister to request that the funding criteria and budget are confirmed as soon as possible.
Ms Donaghy is the SOLACE representative on the Equality & Diversity Group of the Local Government Staff Commission, as well as being the Disability Champion for Local Government and was instrumental in developing Council’s Disability Action Plan.
Councillor Beth Adger MBE, Council’s Mental Health Champion, welcomed the move.
“When we decide to go for a day’s outing, we pack a picnic into the car with family and off we go. How different it is for a family with a disabled child or adult.
“An outing for them has to be planned around finding a place with a disabled toilet. As a matter of interest to everyone in Northern Ireland, there is only 1.4 accessible toilet per 100,000 people.
“We have made a lot of changes but there is a lot more to be done, and I welcome Council taking a lead on this important issue by pledging to provide the best facilities for everyone and every ability within our borough.”