New disabled access facilities have been unveiled at a Burnley leisure centre in support of a young man’s national campaign to improve access in public places.
The leisure trust and the council have shown their support to 22-year-old Zack Kerr’s campaign by installing a fully accessible Changing Place toilet and changing facility at St Peter’s leisure centre.
Work on the facilities has been completed and Zack was at the leisure centre to officially open them to the public.
The move came about after an approach to Burnley Council by Hyndburn MP Graham Jones on behalf of his constituent Zack, who lives in Accrington.
Zack has appeared on regional TV and in national media after launching his campaign to see Changing Place standard toilets at every UK motorway service station. He launched an online petition which gathered more than 100,000 supporters within a matter of months. Zack delivered his petition to Downing Street in person.
Recently Zack was interviewed by representatives from the Prince’s Trust who are keen to include him in their young people’s programme at their centre in Burnley. They discovered there are no Changing Place facilities in Burnley, and very few in East Lancashire as a whole.
Zack said:“I am delighted to be here today to officially open Burnley’s very first Changing Places facility.
“I am very grateful to my MP Graham Jones, who has been very supportive of my campaign since the beginning and who arranged my visit to London for me to take my petition to No. 10 Downing Street last November.
“I am really pleased that Burnley Council and Burnley Leisure have responded so quickly to install this excellent facility, which will help me and so many other people access the leisure facilities here and in the town centre. It will really make a difference to so many disabled people and their families, friends and carers.
“I would also like to thank everyone at BBC Radio Lancashire, 2BR Radio, The Lancashire Telegraph, The Accrington Observer and all my friends at BBC North West and ITV Granada Reports who have all helped to promote my campaign during the year.
“I am very proud of what my campaign has achieved so far. I had also been invited to visit Gloucester motorway service station today to officially open their brand new Changing Places facility, and I have been asked to open the new one for Road Chef at Annandale Water, so it’s great to see my national campaign achieving so many positive results already.”
Mr Jones said: “The success of Zack’s campaign for accessible facilities is absolutely fantastic and I am proud to have supported him in his efforts.
“It is vital that we remove societal barriers that exclude disabled people. At present, there are over 250,000 people unable to use standard accessible toilets.
“I commend Burnley Council and Burnley Leisure for joining Zack’s campaign and installing Changing Places facilities at St Peter’s leisure centre. By taking this step, they have made their leisure facilities accessible to many more people. Hyndburn Leisure already have a Changing Places toilet.
“I am confident that Zack will continue to make a difference through his impressive campaigning.”Scott Bryce, Burnley Leisure’s Area Manager said “Burnley Leisure endeavour to ensure that our facilities are accessible to all of our local community and we were delighted to secure the funding to install the Changing Places facility to St Peter’s Leisure Centre and be part of Zack’s campaign in improving access to facilities. The room is within our village changing area with close proximity to our swimming pools.”
Councillor Lian Pate, the council’s executive member for community services, said: “Burnley Council was delighted to support Zack’s campaign to improve facilities for disabled people. Everyone has the right to be able to access amenities such as their local leisure centre.
“We wish Zack all the best as he pursues his very worthwhile campaign.”
Burnley MP and Shadow Health Minister for Communities Julie Cooper said:
“Zack has been an outstanding champion for this cause and has achieved so much through sheer determination. Both he and the teams from Burnley Leisure and Burnley Council have worked together to make a huge difference to all of those needing greater accessibility to the excellent facilities at St Peter’s.”