Plans to build a fully accessible toilet in St Andrews must be made a priority, say tourism bosses.
Debbie MacCallum, chairwoman of Tourism St Andrews, has joined forces with local residents, including Andrew White, who is the parent of a terminally ill child with additional needs, and popular former Madras teacher Donald Grewar, who suffers from MND, to make the plea for the Changing Places block.
The toilet, with a range of special facilities to make it accessible for people with disabilities, is being planned as part of the refurbishment of the Fife Council-owned block at the Bruce Embankment.
However, Mrs MacCallum is concerned about the £400,000 price tag that has been put on the project by the local authority.
She says Changing Places facilities can usually be completed at a fraction of that cost and fears the higher price will lead to delays.
Mrs MacCallum, who was instrumental in bringing Beach Wheelchairs to the town, said the absence of a Changing Places toilet was a drawback for St Andrews.
“Most other towns have even more than one, yet St Andrews which has thousands of visitors every year, cannot offer accessible changing for disabled people and those with additional needs,” she explained.
“This is needed more than ever with the introduction of Beach Wheelchairs and I am very grateful to the North East Fife area committee for pledging £100,000.
“However, the £400,000 price quoted by the council — which seems to have come from an idea to install some special external cladding — means this could be beset by delays.
“These facilities only cost around £50,000 so I don’t understand why the council has come up with a proposal which would see the cost rise so much that it may never happen.”
Mr White said there were currently no safe changing facilities for his severely disabled three-year-old son in St Andrews, with the only options being to change him on a toilet floor or go home.
“My concern is not just for my son – visitors are being put off visiting St Andrews as there is no such facility in place,” Mr White said.
“I welcome the proposed implementation of a Changing Places at the Bruce Embankment, but consideration should also be given to further facilities in the centre of town and at East Sands – there are 10 in Dundee, seven in Kirkcaldy, three in Glenrothes, two in Leven/Methil, two in Cupar and one in Anstruther. “
The need for Changing Places facilities has been backed by local SNP MP Stephen Gethins who said it was important that St Andrews is made as accessible as possible.
He said: “I wrote to Fife Council to ask for an update and it has been made clear that external funding is still required before the deadline of June next year.
“I am aware the new Madras College will have such a facility and while I hope that will be built as soon as possible, it is important everything is done to ensure alternative provision and make sure St Andrews is as fully accessible as possible.”