A LOCAL pensioner has described the shocking closure of the only outdoor disabled toilet available in Castlederg as ‘an infringement on basic human rights’.
John Doherty, BEM from Castlederg has hit out at Derry and Strabane District Council after they failed to clarify why they closed the three outdoor public toilets on William Street, including one male toilet, one female toilet and one disabled toilet.
It transpires that locals and visitors to the town are now expected to use the toilets in two nearby shops (Hamilton’s Spar, Lower Strabane Road, and the Co-op, High Street, Castlederg) instead – but the 76-year-old was quick to point out that this posed a number of problems for disabled people.
“Disabled people need to have a toilet that is easily accessible,” he said. “For some, the difference between using the toilet and having an accident is mere minutes. Expecting them to be wheeled through a supermarket beggar’s belief.”
To add insult to injury, when John contacted Derry City and Strabane District Council’s environmental health service office about alternative toilets, he was told that ‘the information was on the internet’.
“How is a person supposed to know that they need to check Google to go to the toilet?” he questioned. “I was told that the decision was made by council weeks ago, but I don’t remember hearing anything about it. The situation is absolutely disgusting.”
John added, “Disabled people are entitled to go to the toilet. The council are expected to provide these facilities.
“I love the town of Castlederg, but this is a disgrace, and the final straw.”
A spokesperson for the council explained that following a Review of Public Convenience provision across the council area last year by a working group made of up elected members and officers, council subsequently agreed to close the automated public conveniences at Castlederg.
“Council aims to improve the standard and availability of public convenience facilities across the City and District and has recently implemented a Community Toilet Scheme to help ensure that clean, safe and easily accessible toilets are available to the public at no cost,” they said.
“There are currently two businesses located in Castlederg, which are participating in the scheme namely Hamilton’s Spar, Lower Strabane Road, and the Co-op, High Street, Castlederg.
“Participating businesses receive an annual fee from council based on the facilities they have available. Full details of the scheme and participating businesses across the area available at www.derrystrabane.com/communitytoilets”.