U-turn after outcry over 'scandalous' plan to axe free toilet pass for disabled Wyre residents

The proposal was described as a 'scandal'
The proposal was described as a 'scandal'
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There are not many worse situations than being caught short especially with no toilets nearby.

But even worse is finding a toilet and not having the money to access it.

Fortunately for disabled Wyre residents they are able to use radar keys to access the council’s conveniences, however they were very nearly axed this week during a cabinet meeting.

A report was commissioned for the ‘public conveniences task group’ in order to ensure Wyre’s council toilets were ‘appropriate and sustainable in the future’.

In a final report by Coun Emma Ellison, the chairman of the task group, and Marianne Hesketh, the service director for performance and innovation, nine recommendations were made for the cabinet meeting.

These included the fee for using a public toilet in the borough to be increased from 20p to 30p and the facility to use a radar key be withdrawn will all users being required to pay a fee to use the toilet.

Radar keys are large skeleton keys which open more than 10,000 locked, disabled toilets in the UK.

The former mayor of Preesall, Derek Hudson, described the plans as ‘heartless’ and said it’s people like his disabled wife Julie who would suffer.

He said: “It appeared the council was attacking disabled people with these plans. It isn’t just only old people who would suffer if the plans were given the go ahead.

“I think it’s wrong for them to even think about deciding to scrap them.

Garstang town councillor Sandra Perkins also branded the move a “scandal”.

She said: “I’m incensed. I think it’s scandalous to do away with the Radar key.

“If someone is disabled they carry the key, they don’t necessarily carry 30p. It gives them independence.”

She later added: “Common sense has prevailed it seems. My husband has dementia and I have my radar key to hand at all times because when he needs to, he needs to go.

“It has been an absolute must and if they were scrapped I think people would lose their dignity.”

The 20p fee was introduced in 2007 and the council said it would be an ‘appropriate action to take’ to increase the fee in line with neighbouring local authorities.

In response to the fees being raised, a Wyre Council spokesman said: “The recommendation came from a meeting of overview and scrutiny.

“In anticipation of the end of the contract with Danfo in 2022, which does not include a renewal clause, members agreed to review the current service provision.”

In addition the spokesman said: “Members of the task group felt that there was compelling evidence that the use of radar keys for people with disabilities to access public conveniences is not working.

“Radar keys are widely available at low cost and frequently abused.”

The spokesman could not confirm how much more revenue could be made from the increased fee but said it ‘depends on users'.

These plans also include a suggestion a new public lavatory should be built on the A6 at Cabus to prevent environmental health hazards at two local lay-bys where truck drivers have no toilet facilities.

Recommendations were also passed about cashless payments being introduced, such as contactless card readers.