Closomat Changing Places image
A Closomat Changing Places installation

Aiming to ensure England’s motorways are more accessible as part of its Inclusive Transport Strategy, motorway service stations can apply for a share of the recently launched £2million pot of funding.

The Department for Transport is partnering with Muscular Dystrophy UK to award money to service stations planning to install Changing Places toilets across England’s motorways, making travel easier on the roads for disabled people.

Over a quarter of a million people across the UK cannot use standard accessible toilets, resulting in disabled travellers being forced to endure long journeys without a bathroom break, use facilities incapable of meeting their needs, or choose not to travel.

Transport Accessibility Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “It is unacceptable that, despite welcome investment in some areas, our roadside services are not more accessible for over a quarter of a million people, and I am determined to do more.

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“Our partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK will help ensure that everyone, disabled or not, can use our roads and I encourage as many operators as possible to apply for funding.”

Muscular Dystrophy UK will work with the Department for Transport to allocate funding based on detailed proposals by the motorway service operators who will set out how they propose to fulfil the eligibility criteria.

The eligibility criteria will include the equipment provided within the Changing Places toilet, the total budget required, as well as the motorway service operator’s broader measures to enhance accessibility, such as disabled parking bays and ramps.

The new funding could prove a significant opportunity for Changing Places suppliers and installers in the industry capable of offering a turnkey solution to motorway service operators.

“Individuals and families living with a disability often tell us that travelling by car is the easiest way for them to get from A to B,” commented Catherine Woodhead, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK.

“Building Changing Places toilets at motorway service stations will make it easier for more than a quarter of a million people and their families to visit friends, go on holiday, or simply enjoy a day out somewhere – activities the rest of us take for granted.

“We’re delighted the Department for Transport has recognised this need, and look forward to working together on delivering this transformational project.”

Motorway service operators will be able to apply for the funding for the next three months, with successful applicants announced in September and the new Changing Places facilities in place by 2020.

Recently, the government announced a significant investment into England’s railways as part of its Inclusive Transport Strategy, including £300million funding to improve accessibility at 73 railway stations.

In addition, the Department for Transport has launched an accreditation scheme for transport operators to receive formal recognition for positive work to improve disabled passengers’ experiences, such as training frontline staff and senior management on disability awareness.

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