Thursday, April 10, 2014

£200,000 to spend a penny in Jersey....

"Changing Places" is a UK campaign seeking to make public toilet facilities available to severely disabled people. Nothing wrong with that at all and it is absolutely essential that toilet facilities are available for everybody in public places - even in Jersey.

Unfortunately the provision of public toilets in this Island is not adequate at all and disabled persons experience a very bad deal.
All Island there are 18 "unisex" disabled persons toilets, 7 for "ladies and gents" and 4  in St Helier (according to the currently issued official fact sheet).
In fact the information is not totally accurate since it includes Conway Street (currently demolished) and does not include Snow Hill or the new facilities in the Millennium Park or the Seale Street Changing Places facility....
Many, but not all "disabled persons" toilets need a special key to gain access.
Usually this is the "Radar" key which can be obtained through the Town Hall, Tourism Office or the Shopmobility centre in Sand Street Car Park for a £5 to £10 returnable deposit and some form filling.
St Brelade's Parish Hall has one key which it will lend to those wanting to use the toilet there but generally the all-island availability is uncertain and inadequate. How many other Parishes issue the keys and where else they can be obtained in Jersey is not known...
Visitors to Jersey will probably arrive already equipped with the "Radar" key which is standard issue, can be cut by any locksmith and is available on "e-bay" etc

There are now 2 "Changing Places" toilets in Jersey accessible to the disabled public only. These are located in Seale Street (back of the St Helier Town Hall - managed by the Parish) and in the Millennium Park (David Place, St Helier) managed by TTS.
These both require the same special key fob which can be obtained from the Town Hall by people with severe disabilities only who must complete an application form and pay a £10 deposit.

A previous posting here in May 2012 reported on the public opening of the Seale Street facility - fitted out in an existing building at a cost of £90,000 plus.
So far only about 10 key fobs have been issued and the use remains minimal.
The video above shows the Seale Street facility and potential user Sam Lally.
The sad fact is that the facility was built without proper research regarding demand or location and discussions are now taking place to try to increase its use.
The Millennium Park "Changing Places" facility - shown above -  was built by TTS because the 2007 Building Bye laws (as amended following Deputy Green's lobbying in the States) demands that all new public toilets shall include one - besides a more conventional "disabled persons" toilet.
Its "shared" management between TTS and the Parish does not seem to be a happy one and it remains virtually unused so far as anybody knows.
It presumably cost over £100,000 to build.

The big difference between a "Changing Places" and more conventional "disabled persons"toilet is that these provide an electric hoist to lift the severely disabled user, assisted by a helping carer, from wheelchair to wc and then to washing /changing platform etc as necessary. The wc does not have the same "grab handles" etc found in a more conventional "disabled persons" toilet and the UK organisation insists upon the higher level of provision to be achieved within the "Changing Places" designation.
Inevitably, in Jersey the number of persons who will  use the "Changing Places" facilities in these or any other location, is limited.

Yet major office developments such as the Waterfront have no requirement to provide "Changing Places" standard facilities unless "public" toilets are planned. On the other hand, new developments of shops, transport centres or theatres must provide them....

So what to do - and how might the other 11 Parishes be required to improve their "public toilets" provision for all? Yours truly has suggested that the whole topic of "public toilet" provision should be subject to a Scrutiny Panel Review but this has been several times rejected....

Meanwhile the provision of public toilets remains a bit of a scandal throughout the Island and the following 3 short video clips look only at the most central area of St Helier...

But if you ever need to spend a penny and provided you are over 18 years of age - here is my tip - pop into your nearest betting shop. The toilets there are almost always clean and usually designed to suit the needs of "disabled persons" too - although baby or adult changing facilities are not provided.

Sadly, the current "Changing Places" provision in Jersey is an ill conceived attempt to do the right thing but will only discredit the cause of disabled persons if left unchanged.

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