Disabled toilet user locked in village public loo which closes at 2.30pm
A WINTERBOURNE resident is calling for a rethink of the closing times for public toilets, after being locked in a disabled loo at 2.30pm.
Jeremy Harris, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, was using the disabled toilet in Flaxpits Lane shortly after visiting a nearby care for lunch.
But when he wanted to leave he discovered that he had been locked in – and had to shout for help from a passer-by who raised the alarm.
Now he wants to know why it is necessary to close and padlock the toilets at 2.30pm when there are still plenty of people using the nearby shops and cafes.
A sign on the outside of the building says that they are open until 3.15pm on weekdays but they are now routinely locked earlier, and a smaller sign taped to one of the doors blames the new 2.30pm time on "ongoing vandalism and misuse".
Jeremy said: "I first realised there was a problem when I tried to open the door to get out and it was very stiff.
"Then I called out and a lady who was passing by heard me and told me that it was locked and bolted.
"I hadn’t realised that the toilets would be locked and bolted that early in the day.
"I’m not blaming the gentleman whose job it is to lock up, but he should really have checked if there was anyone inside.
"I have a walking mobility problem but there could be someone with a hearing problem who might not hear, so just calling out isn’t good enough.
"I understand that there may have been problems with vandalism, which is why they need to close at certain times but there must be other methods of monitoring like cameras.
"According to the Disability Discrimination Act, they are not exploring all reasonable possibilities."
The toilets are owned and maintained by South Gloucestershire Council, but Winterbourne Parish Council arranges for them to be opened and closed.
Parish council clerk Sally Watkinson said: “This was a very unfortunate incident. I have been contacted by a friend of the gentleman who was locked in and asked him to pass on the apologies of the parish council.
"When the toilets are locked the caretaker goes in and knocks on the door to ask if anyone is in and says they are locking up. In this instance I'm not sure if perhaps the gentleman didn't hear.
"It is unfortunate that due to ongoing vandalism they can't be left open for longer."