Theme park being sued over lack of accessible toileting
Flambards Theme Park in Cornwall has been accused of failing to provide a suitable ‘changing places’ toileting facility for disabled attendees in what is believed to be the first case questioning if the provision of a changing places toilet is reasonable.
The theme park is being sued by 11-year-old Adam George, a resident from Cornwall who has a degenerative condition that weakens his muscles and affects his speech.
Adam, a full-time wheelchair user, claims that the theme park failed to make the necessary changes to accommodate his needs under the Equality Act 2010.
The Act specifies that all service providers should make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to provide, to the best of their ability, disabled people with the same experience as non-disabled people.
Responding to the allegations, Flambards maintains that it takes the inclusion of attendees to the park seriously and had already made adjustments to its toileting facilities, contending that an installing a permanent changing places toilet would be too expensive and could affect jobs.
Rachel, Adam’s mother, is a member of the Changing Places Consortium, a group of organisations working to support the rights of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and/or other physical disabilities.
Established in 2005, the group campaigns for Changing Places to be installed in all big public spaces so people can access their community.
Richard Smith, General Manager at Flambards, asserts that the park had been quoted in excess of £40,000 to have a full changing places unit installed and insists that the park and rides are all accessible but that there are limits.
As a short-term measure, the theme park installed a changing bed and mobile hoist in an existing disabled toilet, however, the modified toilet was unsuitable to meet Adam’s needs, citing the size of the toilet and equipment available as being insufficient.
The case raises the question of what is determined to be ‘reasonable adjustments’ under the Act, both in terms of what is expected by those using the facilities and the amount a business should invest to comply.
Highlighting what she deemed to be reasonable, Rachel told the BBC: “A place like Flambards, a theme park, where they expect people to arrive in the morning, stay all day, eat, drink, stay late for the fireworks show, I personally think it reasonable that I can use the toilet when I go there.
“So why shouldn’t Adam? Why shouldn’t all disabled people be able to have their toileting needs met with dignity and safety?”