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The Politically Speaking column with Paula Sherriff MP

Changing places: These toilets have extra equipment and more space to meet people's needs (Photo courtesy of Changing Places)
Changing places: These toilets have extra equipment and more space to meet people's needs (Photo courtesy of Changing Places)

Over the weekend I’ve been struck by just how many people, at events across the constituency came together two years on from the death of Jo Cox, to commemorate her life, and to show that we truly have ‘more in common’.

From Pentland Infants community picnic, to the family event at Crow Nest Park, and the picnic at Shepley Cricket Club, the Great Get Togethers held around our towns and villages make me proud to represent a diverse constituency, where our schools and community groups continue to be inspired by the hope and unity that Jo extolled.

In this spirit of inclusivity, I’ve been glad to present my first 10 minute rule bill to Parliament on the provision of public toilets.

For many disabled, older or chronically ill people, being unable to get to good, accessible public toilets is a necessity, not just a convenience.

For people who require a hoist and a changing bench to use the toilet, they can be limited to only visiting venues with these types of toilets, or not leaving home at all.

Going out for the day should not be something that fills you with dread because of a lack of suitable toilets.

I’ve taken up this challenge after meeting with representatives from Changing Places, a consortium of groups that believe, simply, that all major public buildings should have a Changing Places toilet.

They’re different to a disabled toilet, as they have extra equipment and more space to meet people’s additional needs.

What ought to be a public convenience is often anything but for over 250,000 people in the UK who need these facilities.

I’m supporting a change in the law to require major public buildings to provide Changing Places toilets.

While a 10-minute Rule Bill is unlikely to bring a change to legislation, it is a great opportunity to bring an issue before Parliament and bring greater prominence to an issue, and it is a campaign that I am proud to support.

Another campaign I’m keen for people to get behind, is my work with Keep Britain Tidy.

I’ve launched a competition ‘Little Litter Heroes’ with local schools to help inspire children about environmental issues – and to hopefully foster a lifelong sense of pride in our towns and villages.

I’ll also be organising a weekend litter pick/clean up throughout the constituency for everyone to get involved in – date to be announced.

We’ll ensure appropriate equipment is provided.

Let’s all do our bit and take pride in our area.

As always, if there’s anything I can do to help readers or their families in any way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with my office on 01924 565450, email paula@paulasherriff.org.uk or write to me; Paula Sherriff MP, The Old Dewsbury Reporter Building, 17 Wellington Road, Dewsbury, WF13 1HQ.