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Disabled Facilities at Motorway Services

Hi, I am a carer for my ex husband and we travel frequently by car to Scotland.  He has MS and uses a wheelchair.  Every time we come back I say I am going to do something about the dreadful disabled facilities we encounter at some of the motorway service areas.  I am in touch with my MP and her office and doing research and building up a file with the hope of trying to get things changed.  It would be most helpful to hear other peoples’ stories of their experiences using motorway facilities.

There are three areas of particular concern (and you could have others)

1) Disabled parking bays seem to have been slowly taken over by electric charging points and these are the ones nearest to the entrance.  New disabled spaces are not being provided to replace those taken. 

2)  Disabled toilets can be extremely poor.  Welcome Break seem to only provide one unisex disabled toilet whatever the size of their outlet and this is shared by baby changing.  Official guidance says ‘wheelchair accessible disabled toilets should not be used for baby changing’, the reasoning being that this can cause a considerable wait for people with disabilities.

3)  The siting of toilets is important.  Some services place all their toilets, including disabled, a long way from the entrance meaning disabled people of all kinds, not just  wheelchair users but the frail and elderly, are made to negotiate through throngs of people to get to a toilet.  Again, guidance says that ‘the time needed to reach a wheelchair accessible toilet should be kept to a minimum’.

So, if anyone has any views/concerns/incidents they would like to share I would love to hear them.


  • CaderMac
    CaderMac Member Posts: 105 Pioneering
    Hi Jackie, thank you for your post - I'm sure there are lots of people on here who have some horror stories when it comes to accessiblity at service stations! 

    In reference to the toilet aspect, I wonder if Changing Places might have some useful tools or tips that could help your campaigning? 

    Cader x 
  • Jackie_Mackrill
    Jackie_Mackrill Member Posts: 2 Listener
    Hi - Yes I'm in touch with Changing Places.  The problem with this is that, whilst these new units (with hoists and adult changing tables etc) are excellent and needed, I think they should be in addition to ordinary disabled toilets.  Otherwise we still have the same problem - one unit which is probably going to be allocated to baby changing as well.  I have written to the CEO of Welcome Break and received a rather belligerent reply.  He of course mentions that his company is installing the Changing Places units as though this lets him off the hook. I have been told by Highways England and someone at the Department of Transport that it's nothing to do with them!! But on their website there is a consultation currently running asking for views on accessibility in the transport system.  But they don't seem to be looking at road users.  I have written to them too.  I'm just so fed up with having to cope with inferior disabled facilities.  It seems to be all about box ticking with no actual thought of the disabled person.  If we can't get to a toilet in time, our visit to a service station can take on nightmarish qualities. 

    I'm sure we're not the only ones and it would be good to hear from other people to back this up.

    Jackie x
  • Aldrin11
    Aldrin11 Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Hi Jackie - this seems an excellent initiative to me. My wife has a respiratory condition and relies on portable oxygen whilst we are out and about. The quality and number of disabled parking places & toilets on UK motorways is appalling. Operators seem to assume all disabled people use wheelchairs or are otherwise capable of moving long distances on foot with ease. We are about to make our first journey to Lancashire up the M6. I'm dreading having to make a toilet stop as I know the facilities will be a distance from the parking and likely to be in a disgusting state for her use. I will record our experiences and share. I shall also do some research on accountable Government departments. Thanks for raiding this as it was a link to your post that encouraged me to join this community. 
  • KatyandCo
    KatyandCo Member Posts: 1 Listener
    I don't suppose any services have transit wheelchairs to borrow? 
    As you say, the toilets always take you to the furthest point so you are tempted to buy something. Its impossible getting through crowds sometimes when fit and able. Horrendous that my friend who copes everywhere else with just a stick, will feel he's giving in if we have to hire a chair just to get over this issue!
  • mossycow
    mossycow Member Posts: 487 Pioneering
    Yes yes yes! It's a disgrace isn't it. These are our issues:

    -agree disabled parking spots being taken over by power points. And never ever regulated...that I've seen. 

    - disabled toilets inside female/male blocks..... So my husband who identifies as male can't push me, I identify female, into the disabled toilet. 

    - slopes, doors, lifts, steps..... All a b%itch. 

    - stupid key systems where you park near the loo but then have to walk/roll for ages to get the damn key. 

    - grass and wonky paving.... 

    - cash machines  tills etc all too high. 

    Really grateful for you doing something about it  thsnks


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