LAYLA Moran has backed a campaign to force all developers to put accessible 'changing places' toilets in new public buildings.

It follows anger from parents who use Abbey Meadows in Abingdon about Vale of White Horse District Council’s toilet upgrade plans for the park.

More than 500 residents signed a petition earlier this year urging the authority to rethink the changes, 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. Campaigners asked the council to include a changing places facility that provides more space than standard disabled toilets to help people with multiple learning disabilities and physical disabilities.

This was ultimately rejected by the council’s cabinet in February, with the authority citing budget restrictions and stating it had complied with statutory requirements by including two disabled toilets in the designs.

Now the Oxford West and Abingdon MP has put her support behind a campaign in Parliament, which has found broad cross-party backing, to update planning regulations and compel developers to includes changing places facilities in all new public buildings.

She said: “Residents and members of the Abbey Meadows Consultation Group have done amazing work to try and get the Vale to see sense and create an accessible changing places facility at Abbey Meadows.

“There was huge disappointment when the cabinet decided to ignore the petition and I’m continuing to urge the council’s leadership to think again and to make sure that there is enough provision of accessible toilets so that everyone can get the most from the new facilities.”

“As a result of this local issue I’m now backing a national campaign to change building and planning regulations so that all new public buildings have to have an accessible changing place facility.

“If local councils and developers are ignoring local need I think it is right that the Government takes action nationally to require planners to make sure there are truly accessible toilets and facilities for everyone.”

More changing place facilities are starting to appear across the county, with one installed in the newly refurbished Orchard Centre in Didcot, as reported in the Oxford Mail yesterday.

In February, Vale announced it was working with Abingdon Town Council, which owns the Guildhall, to install a changing places toilet in the building, which is a five minute walk from Abbey Meadow park. Campaigners welcomed the decision but warned it was ‘not good enough’.