PROPOSALS to install disability friendly toilets in Abingdon’s Guildhall have been welcomed by campaigners, but they have warned they are not a suitable substitute for unpopular play park plans.

More than 500 people had signed a petition calling on Vale of White Horse District Council to think again about the design for facilities in nearby Abbey Meadows, which will see six toilets – divided into men and women’s blocks – replaced with four unisex individual cubicles.

The £230,000 project follows the opening of a new £320,000 play area, also funded by the council, in June.

Abbey Meadows Consultation Group presented a petition to the council in October calling for a ‘changing places’ facility in addition to the two disabled access cubicles already included.

Changing places are much larger than standard disabled toilets to give people more room.

Campaigners called the district council ‘cruel and brutal’ last week for confirming they would not alter toilet block designs to make them more disability friendly.

Now the authority has said it is working with Abingdon Town Council, which owns the Guildhall, to install a changing places toilet in the building, which is a five minute walk away from the park.

Spokeswoman Naiomi Richardson said: “It is encouraging that the council is planning to include an inclusive toilet at the Guildhall, though there is no indication of when this might happen.

“I just wish that they could have also considered inclusivity at Abbey Meadow and planned for a fully accessible toilet there as well; it is needed now, not in five or 10 years’ time.

"The Guildhall will not be open when the park is being used, and I am not comfortable with public money being spent in a way that deliberately excludes sections of the community, in this case preventing disabled children from using the inclusive park.

"All public toilet facilities should be inclusive, wherever they are built.”

It has not been revealed where in the civic building the changing places toilet would be located.The historic section of the Guildhall is currently being refurbished as part of a £1m restoration project due to be completed this summer.