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Accessible toilet: Hastings District Council apologises after eight-month closure

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An ongoing delay in reopening an accessible bathroom in the Hastings CBD has left a disabled Hawke’s Bay pensioner wondering how long the “temporary” closure – that’s now at eight months – will last.

Hastings District Council has apologised, citing a lack of assessors and builders due to Cyclone Gabrielle recovery work taking priority, but Coleen Davey says it is still frustrating for those with mobility issues like herself.

The Russell St disabled toilet by the bus stop in the Hastings CBD has been closed since August last year due to a fire caused by an unknown perpetrator.

“Back then, I went, and there was a notice outside that said temporarily closed,” Davey told Hawke’s Bay Today.

Hastings woman Coleen Davey has been left asking, "how long is temporary" when it comes to the closure of an accessible bathroom? Photo / Paul Taylor
Hastings woman Coleen Davey has been left asking, “how long is temporary” when it comes to the closure of an accessible bathroom? Photo / Paul Taylor

“Until a few weeks ago, the sign was still there saying it was temporarily closed. When I was there last Wednesday, the sign was gone, and the door was locked.”

Davey, 86, said she relies on a walker to get around. She said there was enough room in the closed bathroom for it to fit comfortably.

“The other [non-disabled] toilets are of no use to disabled people because the toilets are low, and when you get down, you can’t get up,” she said.

“There are no rails to help you and no proper lock on the doors.”

Davey said she had reached out to the council previously before Christmas.

“I contacted the council, and I always send the mayor a Christmas card. I hadn’t heard from anyone since.

“I put in the Christmas card ‘How long is temporary?”

There is another accessible toilet available in King St North, approximately 250 metres away. However, Davey said she struggled with the automatic time-locking system and deemed them unsuitable for those with limited mobility.

“You can’t guarantee they will ever let you out those self-service ones. I got locked in there between Christmas and New Year.”

A Hastings District Council spokesperson said council understood the public’s frustration with the time it has taken to fix the toilet.

“We apologise for the lack of a speedy response. We are aware and have been working with our insurers to resolve the issue.”

The spokesperson confirmed that the claims process had been slowed by a lack of assessors and builders.

“We are awaiting the final assessor and builder’s visit to confirm the scope and timing of works.”

Anyone struggling with accessibility issues relating to public services can contact Hastings District Council on 06 871 5000.

Mitchell Hageman joined Hawke’s Bay Today in January 2023. From his Napier base, he writes regularly on social issues, arts and culture, and the community.

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