“I don’t think they expect children of Archie’s condition to be out and about so much,” said Simon Trimnell.

“I think they’re just expected to be shut away, really.”

Simon is a Labour candidate in Saffron Walden Castle. He’s also the full time carer for his 11-year-old son Archie, who has cerebral palsy.

Simon is campaigning for more fully accessible disabled toilets, to the standards of charity Changing Places.

These differ from standard disabled toilets, as they are bigger and contain a changing bed and hoist.

According to the charity, roughly 250,000 people in the UK cannot use standard accessible toilets.

Simon told the Local Democracy Reporting Service some are too small for larger wheelchairs and that some people are even forced to change on the floor due to the lack of equipment.

Simon says this “blocks” disabled people from places like Uttlesford, which does not have any Changing Places toilets in its town centres.

According to Changing Places, there are four across the whole district – two in Stansted Airport and two in leisure centres outside Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow.

He also says his campaign for a Changing Places toilet in Saffron Walden town centre had been met with little enthusiasm from both town and district councillors.

Saffron Walden Town Council said installing a Changing Places toilet in its new offices in the town centre was unviable.

An Uttlesford District Council spokesperson said in a statement: "Uttlesford District Council does not own or operate any public toilets in the district.

"The Changing Places website identifies those facilities that have been registered with Changing Places.

"There are four identified in the district. Whilst the two in the leisure centres, at Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow, are not public buildings, they are accessible during the centres’ opening hours and there is no requirement for the service user to be a member or patron of the centre.

"If you are visiting a venue for the first time we strongly advise you contact the venue in advance to discuss your requirements."

Simon said: "It’s just discriminating against disabled visitors"

"If there is no fully accessible toilet in the town centre, then those who need it are unable to visit the town."

Saffron Walden Reporter: An accessible toilet in Saffron WaldenAn accessible toilet in Saffron Walden (Image: LDRS)

Having lived in Saffron Walden his whole life, Simon and Archie can quickly return home if they want to visit the town, but those living further away would have to drive to the Lord Butler Fitness & Leisure Centre – and possibly have to let them know in advance.

Simon said: "One of the things that annoys us is when they have big events in the town, you come into town but you have to go home to change the children or adults, because there’s nowhere to change."

Archie used to be changed on the floor of standard accessible toilets, but this has since become difficult as he is now too big.

"When he was younger, when he was an infant, it wasn’t too bad," Simon explains.

"But now he’s quite tall and he weighs quite a lot now so we can’t lift him out of his chair anyway. It takes a two man lift to hoist him."

The subject of installing a Changing Places toilet in Saffron Walden was raised at a town council meeting last month.

Saffron Walden Town Council is currently refurbishing a vacant NatWest bank next to the town hall, intending to use it as offices.

Simon says he asked at the meeting if a new toilet would be part of this development. 

But according to a statement, the town council does not have the funding for a new toilet or to retrofit existing buildings.


Changing Places estimates a new fully accessible toilet costs between £12,000-£17,000, but the town council says it could cost as much as £43,500.

A spokesperson said in a statement: "Using the former NatWest Bank (3 Market Street) as a location of a Changing Places toilet would not be economically viable and the installation costs would be much higher to retrofit due to the structural nature of the building.

"Changing the frontage of this commercial unit for accessible access would require listed building and planning consent.

"Converting the Hill Street toilets would remove three of the existing units which would only leave two units for members of the public.

"Consideration has been given for installation near Hill Street toilets in Jubilee Gardens, which would involve installation of a new unit which could be up to £200,000 which is not within SWTC’s funding.

"Government funding has been available however it only for unitary and district authorities and not town and parishes.

"The Changing Places website encourages district councils to seek S106 monetary contributions to fund Changing Places toilets throughout the district, should government grant funding or S106 monies become available SWTC would open to work with the district council in providing this asset for Saffron Walden."

Simon said Uttlesford’s small population, and therefore a risk a fully accessible toilet could be used infrequently, could be behind a reluctance to commit to funding.

He said: "I think it might be the size of the population. How much they’re going to be used.

"But I think if we had one, more people with disabilities would come into town. It’s just discriminating against disabled visitors.”

The other candidates for Saffron Walden Castle are:

Heather Jane Asker (Residents for Uttlesford)

Simon Alexander Bagni (Conservative)

John Gabriel Early (Labour Party)

Richard Ford Freeman (Residents for Uttlesford)

Edward Vernon Gildea (Green Party)

John Newman Lefever (Liberal Democrats)

David James Sadler (Conservative)

Grant John Maxwell StClair-Armstrong (Reform UK)