Disability Equality Scotland have warned that the significant drop in the numbers of public toilets in Scotland over the past eight years is a “health risk” to disabled people.
Figures collected by the BBC show that Scotland has lost over 160 public toilets over the last eight years, with North Ayrshire being the worst hit, losing 36 of its 45 public toilets. Only Glasgow, Inverclyde and Moray gained public toilets, with each getting one extra toilet.
Scottish Labour have challenged the Scottish Government over this, citing cuts to councils, who are increasingly faced with having to sacrifice non-statutory services in order to maintain mandatory services, they say.
Morven Brooks, CEO of Disability Equality Scotland, said:“Being able to use a toilet is a basic human right, however every day thousands of disabled people across the country are denied that right due to the worrying decline in public toilets and the lack of suitable facilities therein for disabled people.
“A lack of public toilets can also be a health risk, leading to social isolation as it could prevent disabled people from leaving their homes, feeling humiliated, and worried about how they would cope without suitable public toilet facilities being available.
“Organisations and public bodies have a duty of care under The Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments or provisions for people on their premises who are at particular risk due to disability, injury or other mobility restrictions.
“Furthermore, to use the toilet in safety and comfort, many people need to be able to access a Changing Places toilet, which have more space and the right equipment, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist. Providing these toilets in public places would make a dramatic difference to the lives of thousands of people who desperately need these facilities.
“We strongly believe that more must be done by local councils to maintain public toilets across Scotland to ensure that disabled people are not discriminated against.”
Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s shadow cabinet secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities agreed, saying: “Public toilets are vanishing in Scotland as councils struggle to meet the needs of their communities because of £1.5 billion of austerity budget cuts by this SNP government.
“Disability Equality Scotland is speaking out because accessible public toilets are vital for public health and participation in community life.
“It is always the most vulnerable who pay the price of austerity. Scottish Labour is calling on SNP ministers to abandon cuts and to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to fund our councils properly.”
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