This seems an appropriate time to provide the latest information on several toilet-related initiatives, ending with some very good news!
The Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into Disability and the Built Environment.
The Committee published their report on Tuesday 25th April. I was pleased to see the importance attached to the provision of “away from home” toilets in enabling people with disabilities to lead a fulfilling lifestyle.
However, I am concerned that whilst great emphasis seems to be placed on provision for people with severe levels of disability, I could find no mention of the many thousands of people who live with “invisible” disabilities. The lack of basic public toilets can have a very detrimental effect on them and their more simple needs should also be met.
The published Report is now awaiting a Government Response and due to the general election on 8 June 2017 the Committee has now closed this inquiry. Government responses to committee reports may be published in the next Parliament.
The Law Commission consultation for their Thirteenth Programme of Law Reform.
On 17th March I received a letter from the Law Commission, thanking me for responding to their Thirteenth Programme consultation and for proposing that the Law Commission consider undertaking a law reform project on the question of whether there should be a legal requirement regarding the provision of public toilets.
Regrettably, following their internal decision procedure, it was decided not to include my project in their Thirteenth Programme of Law Reform because the issue I identified is a matter of policy to be determined by Government, rather than a subject for a review conducted by the independent, non-political Law Commission.
However, I was interested in the following section of their letter (quote):
“You may be interested to know, however, that we are considering a wider project on public health legislation. Commissioners will be deciding on the final list of projects in May, after which, as required by the Law Commissions Act 1965, we shall refer the programme to the Lord Chancellor for approval. All being well, we hope to publish the Thirteenth Programme of Law Reform in July 2017.”
It will be interesting to follow the progress of the project on Public health legislation, if it does become a viable project, Might Wales’ example be followed? (see final item)
British Standard 6465-2 “Sanitary Installations. Space recommendations. Code of Practice”
On a more positive note, I am pleased to report that the revision of British Standard 6465-2 “Sanitary Installations. Space recommendations. Code of Practice” is making good progress and I have reason to suppose that certain of the recommendations will be very positive in terms of cubicle sizes, baby changing options, etc. It is hoped that the revised Standard will be published at the end of June, or earlier.
Public Health (Wales) Bill
As previously mentioned (Author’s Comments, 10th August 2016) the Public Health (Wales) Bill has been reintroduced in an amended form. The Bill includes a requirement for local authorities to prepare a local strategy to plan how they will meet the needs of their communities for accessing toilet facilities for public use.
Here is a link to the Bill as amended at Stage 3 of the proceedings.
Part 8 concerns the provision of toilets, starting on page 113.
Stage 4: On 16 May this Bill came before the Welsh Assembly for the final stage. Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Conservatives and UKIP all said they would support the revised proposals prior to the vote.
Public health minister Rebecca Evans said if passed the bill “will create the conditions which enable people to live healthy lives and will protect them from preventable harm”.
I am very pleased and proud that this Bill was passed, having been unanimously backed by AMs. Wales is taking the issue of the provision of “away from home” toilets seriously, and leading the way!