Queensgate toilet concern raised by people with disabilities who find shopping in Cambridge and Milton Keynes easier

People with disabilities are shunning Queensgate in Peterborough to do their shopping in either Cambridge or Milton Keynes due to a lack of accessible toilets.

By Joel Lamy
Sunday, 2nd May 2021, 4:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 10:16 am

One prominent charity chief executive was among those to say they prefer travelling longer distances to do their shopping as other cities make it more welcoming for them.

Michelle King, CEO at Little Miracles, a parent led support group for families with children that have additional needs, disabilities and life-limiting conditions, said: “I take my little boy to Milton Keynes and we go shopping.

“It’s a couple of hours out the way but there’s a place where he can get changed. That’s our sole reason.”

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Queensgate Shopping Centre

Ms King was speaking at a meeting of the PCVS (Peterborough Council for Voluntary Service) Disability Forum where discussion turned to a lack of disabled and fully accessible toilets in the city centre.

Currently, the only changing place toilet - which meets the needs of people with a wide range of disabilities - is available at Car Haven Car Park at the back of the Town Hall.

Jason Merrill told the meeting: “There needs to be two with one on the other side of town, near Rivergate, as it’s a long way if you need the loo.

“From Queensgate to the football ground you have one disabled toilet.

“And if you’re coming in from elsewhere there’s not very good signposting either.”

Ms King added: “Queensgate did research on the disabled people using the shopping centre back in 2019 and they were finding that disabled patrons were going out of Peterborough and other shopping centres, mainly in Cambridge and Milton Keynes.”

Jason - “It’s because when you look at toilets and buildings and all those kind of things, they’re not very accessible. Leicester, Cambridge and Milton Keynes, they are more accessible, or seem to be.”

Karen Oldale, Friends and Service Users lead at St George’s Hydrotherapy Pool, said: “It’s sad that people are travelling to Milton Keynes and it’s partly because of this toilet issue.

“We need to get it through that people are going out of the area because of this issue and it could be solved.”

The meeting also discussed a shortage of disability-friendly play equipment in Peterborough’s parks.

Ms King added: “It’s a struggle. Families are taking their children out of their wheelchairs to get them on play equipment.”