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Accrington man, 21, vows to take disabled facilities petition to PM

Zack Kerr's petition over motorway services has more than 3,000 signatures

Zack Kerr, from Accrington, is campaigning to get accessible changing room facilities installed at all UK motorway service stations

An Accrington man has vowed to take his campaign for better disabled facilities at motorway services to Downing Street.

Zack Kerr, 21, set up a petition on the change.org website on August 4, and it has already been backed by nearly 3,000 people.

He intends to deliver it to the Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and north west MPs including Hyndburn’s Graham Jones.

Zack, of Howard Close, wants to see accessible changing room facilities installed at all UK motorway service stations.

He explained: “There are many disabled children and adults who, like me, are wheelchair users and require suitable spaces and the assistance of a carer when needing toilet and changing facilities during long journeys.

“At the moment there are very few such facilities on UK motorway routes and my parents often have to resort to changing me in a cramped and often dirty toilet floor or baby changing room.”

Zack said the lack of provision makes him “mad”. He said: “I get very worried on long journeys because I know there are no facilities suitable for my needs. Recently we travelled to see some friends and family in Swansea which is at least a five-hour road trip and we couldn’t find any suitable changing facilities on route. I need to be lifted out of my wheelchair and this is difficult to do without a hoist.

“These companies always have plenty of toilets for male and female adults and children and usually at least one disabled toilet for those who can get out of their wheelchairs and walk short distances.

“Why should disabled travellers like myself be treated any different? It is degrading.”

Zack says he contacted one operator, who told him they have created five accessible changing rooms on “major motorway routes”.

But he added: “None of these are in the north or midlands on any of the M6, M5 or M50 routes which we use. This made me feel really angry.

“I have had some very positive experiences of accessible changing rooms, in particular at Chester Zoo, Folly Farm (in South Wales) and Swansea Waterfront Museum. But there needs to be many more. So many adults and families like mine always need to make arrangements about where to visit and are limited by how long they can be out depending on where there are accessible facilities, which in 2017 is just not acceptable.”

The petition has 2,979 signatures so far.

Motorway services sign

Two motorway forecourt operators responded to us over Zack’s campaign.

Welcome Break, which runs 27 motorway service stations, said they have seven assisted accessible toilets installed, with another to come soon.

A spokesperson said: “We started installing Changing Places toilets last year.

“Our Changing Place toilets include a height-adjustable changing bed and ceiling tracking hoist, as well as additional space and a peninsular toilet with space for carers on either side.

“I believe we are the only motorway services to have so many Changing Places at key locations.”

CEO Rod McKie added: “We want to be able to make life easier for carers and people who have severe disabilities.”

A spokesperson for Roadchef said: “We aim to make every one of our customers feel welcome and comfortable when they visit our service areas.

“We have recently opened a brand new Changing Places facility at Roadchef Norton Canes, on the M6 Toll, and we are also in the process of constructing a page on the Roadchef website, providing accessibility information for our sites, to ensure that our customers are fully informed of the facilities available.”

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