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Changing Places toilets for people with complex needs to be constructed at Gosford Forest Park

The facilities will be provided within a visitors information centre which forms the third phase of the capital works at the forest park site

Changing Places toilets – for people with complex needs and disabilities who require assistance – are to be installed at Gosford Forest Park.

The work will be included as part of the overall multi-million pound development which is ongoing – including trails and play facilities – to create a five-star tourist destination.

Confirmation of the inclusion of Changing Places toilets was given at the monthly meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough council, held remotely on Monday evening.

It came in response to a question raised by Ulster Unionist Councillor Julie Flaherty.

The former Lord Mayor – who has been a strong advocate on issues of interest pertaining to those with a disability or special needs – welcomed the news.

Changing Places toilets provide suitable space and equipment – such as a changing bench or hoist – required for those who are unable to use toilet facilities independently.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, she said: “I’ve lobbied heavily, regularly, on Changing Places toilets and disability accessible toilets for parents of children in my sphere and adults too.

“I have had many discussions with council officers regarding the facilities in Gosford, with the development of the new play scheme there.

“Can I just confirm that there will be Changing Places toilets going into Gosford and when that will be available for these parents and children to use?”

Jonathan Hayes, the council’s head of estates and asset management, was able to give the answer which Councillor Flaherty wished to hear!

“Changing Places will be going into Gosford,” he told the meeting.

“It will be going in as phase three of the capital works, in terms of the visitors information centre, so that work will be completed as part of that phase.”

Councillor Flaherty described the response as “great news”.

But she said that ABC Council should go one step further in this regard and revealed her imminent plans to lobby central government on what she sees as an essential inclusion in all new public buildings.

“Every building that we start to develop I want this looked at,” added Councillor Flaherty.

“I’m meeting the Permanent Secretary in the next week or two to try and push this legislation through through the Department of Finance.”

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