I was more than a little surprised to see an appeal from a local parent raising money to build a changing places fully accessible toilet in what is effectively a privately run sports and leisure centre.

Let’s cover the counter-argument first. Sure, the Atlantic Racquet Centre is a registered charity, but they exist purely to provide the:

‘Development and provision of facilities to the local community for the playing of sport.’

So although this is a good project designed to help the community, it is also intended to generate significant income. As well as six outdoor tennis and two indoor squash courts there will be several table tennis tables, a sports hall, a gym, sauna, jacuzzi, meeting rooms, bar and more. I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say the project is designed to make money, even if that money is used to invest in further projects.

So yes, I get that, I understand its a charity. I don’t get why the public is not being asked separately to fund the building of the male and female toilets. Oh, that’s right, they have to be there by law don’t they! Whereas we all know they don’t have to provide a fully accessible changing places toilet to ensure that all members of the community can get access. They are not exactly scrimping on the project though, I’m sure the fully stocked bar will go in nice and early, and the jacuzzi will be lovely and warm, why can’t they find the £15,000 that Sara Milburn is working so hard to raise so her son Daniel can use the toilet when they are out shopping?



I don’t have any issues whatsoever with Sara, I think she’s doing an incredible job and has at this point raised over 50% of the money needed, but I have a huge issue with her feeling the only way to be sure her son can use the toilet when he’s out is to work flat out fundraising so she can build it herself. I guess the only thing worse would be if they made Sara install it too.

Oh, no, wait, the only thing worse would be if this would mean that North Devon could attract disabled athletes to the new Racquet club so the centre could benefit from these visitors. And yes that’s actually in the plan; Sara says in her fundraising appeal that’s one of the reasons she is working so hard to do this.

Sara, you are a good person and should be proud of what you are doing, but I would love to know how the conversation went that resulted in you taking on such a project. The latest figures I have are to the end of 2016, but in the three years before the ARC charity had managed to raise the not insubstantial amount of £2,290,033 – just under 2.3 million pounds basically. Well, with Sara’s hard work it will push it just over the 2.3 million mark. I doubt they have had a challenging 2017 and not generated any income, and as the build is now well underway I just don’t see why they feel the need to let Sara do this when they could quite as easily have added it to the total bill.

Thank you to Sara for not being a grumpy old git like me and for having the determination to see this through. ARC – you don’t deserve any praise in this, you should be adding a changing places fully accessible toilet to your final specification as an essential item and either raising more funds to pay for it or reducing your costs so you can cover the build. No pat on the back from me just for allowing someone else to do it all for you.


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