Boost for Banbury’s disabled accessibility

Kat Allsworth and her daughter Freya NNL-171007-112819001
Kat Allsworth and her daughter Freya NNL-171007-112819001

Cherwell District Council announced this week that it will modify plans for the Castle Quay 2 development to include the town’s first changing places facility.

The move comes after a prolonged campaign by Accessible Banbury which has become increasingly frustrated with the town’s lack of disabled adult changing provisions.

Cllr Lynn Pratt, lead member for economy, regeneration and property at CDC, said: “Since our acquisition of Castle Quay and Castle Quay 2 development, our priority has been to ensure that our shoppers have the best facilities to suit their needs.

“As part of this commitment, we have been looking at the provision of adult changing spaces within the Castle Quay shopping centre.

“We are exploring ways to not only provide adult changing spaces, but also an upgrade to our existing toilet facilities. We need to ensure that this fits seamlessly within the existing shopping centre whilst being accessible to those who have come to visit.

“As part of this process, we will engage with local groups who have a particular interest in this area, and look forward to working with them to provide a town centre that delivers for all.”

The move has been welcomed by the group who routinely have to go shopping in towns other than their own simply because of the lack of provisions in Banbury.

I met Kat Allsworth from Accessible Banbury in a town centre coffee shop, she said: “That is fantastic news, to have one in Banbury because we’re all going to have to go home after this because there is nowhere to change our children.”

Changing Places provide a ceiling hoist, changing bench and enough space for two carers.

Although the group welcomed the news there is still much to be done to provide Banbury’s disabled community access to other council-run facilities.

Alison dos Santos, who’s 12-year-old son, Tiago, is confined to a wheelchair, said: “We want it in more places, Spiceball (leisure centre) and Woodgreen is the big one. In the summer holidays he wants to be able to swim at the outdoor pool. When we went last year they said ‘we have a disabled changing room’ and I thought fantastic as it had been redeveloped recently.

“I went in and thought this won’t work for him as it has the fold down seats but if you cannot sit unaided you can’t use the seats.

She added: “It’s actually a big room so I think there is potential for them to put in a changing bed and a hoist and that would mean he could go and use that pool.”

CQ2 is due for completion in late 2020.