Disabled children are at risk of being excluded from a popular public park in Abingdon after council leaders rejected a petition to build an accessible Changing Places facility.
The petition for “excellent, accessible loos at Abbey Meadow” surpassed the required 500 signatures for a full council debate and was raised at the Vale of the White Horse District Council cabinet meeting on Friday.
But the council decided against the proposals outlined in the petition for Changing Places facilities and instead plan to install two accessible toilets at the park.
Naomi Richardson, behind the petition, said: “The new toilets will be only four unisex cubicles, two of which are accessible to those can self transfer.
“Most kids, because of the nature of their disabilities, can’t self transfer.
“Thus, we are in a ludicrous position of having built an inclusive playground that is not in fact accessible to disabled children as there are no toilet facilities for them.”
According to the petition, the current plans would not offer suitable provision for disabled children and criticises the decision as “fiscally irresponsible” and “morally indefensible”.
Vale leader, Councillor Matthew Barber, said: “We are improving the disabled toilets beyond what currently exists and are planning to provide two fully accessible toilets which will go well above our statutory requirements.
“We’ll also be making significant accessibility improvements to the outdoor pool.
“However, we only have a limited budget for the toilets at Abbey Meadow and, in exploring this refurbishment, we are also restricted by the floor area of the facility.
“We are actively looking for alternative sites nearby which may be more suitable for a Changing Places toilet.”
Changing Places facilities differ from standard accessible toilets by providing adjustable changing benches, hoists and room for one or two carers to assist children and adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities.
Disabled children playing in the new park who require use of such facilities will need to leave the play area.
Cllr Barber added: “We recognise the importance of Changing Places toilets and encourage major new developments and refurbishment schemes to include this facility in their plans where feasible, including at our own leisure centres.”
The Abbey Meadow play park was officially opened in June last year and the pool is due to open for the summer.