Thursday, 3 February 2011

save the Lion Yard toilets!

Click here for an update

I took the bus from Fulbourn to the city centre today, getting off just before Lion's Yard. Not having the strongest bladder in the world, I headed for the loos inside the Grand Arcade first of all; on the way, I saw an advert in HMV for a rock CD I'd heard about, and, returning, popped in to buy it.

In between, I met Geri Bird, of the Cambridge Forum for Disabled People, outside the toilets, next to a chap with a sandwich-board sign pleading "Save our Toilets!" I remembered an article by the Cambridge News' Chris Havergal about the plan to move toilets from the ground floor to the first, and immediately started to think about the other places I could have taken my bladder and my business upon alighting from the bus.

Gerri Bird

Gerri and her associates had raised over 2,500 signatures in 6 days in favour of keeping the Lion Yard/Grand Arcade toilets on the ground floor. Actually, though, they'd been campaigning for 2 hours for each of these days, so they'd collected the signatures in 12 hours. "Twelve chilly hours!" laughs Gerri.

I'd like to reproduce for you the leaflet that Geri gave me - please take a minute or two to read it, because we need to keep Cambridge as a city accessible to all, not just those who can navigate a byzantine system of lifts/elevators to go to the toilet.

We need your support to fight this closure - it will hurt our disabled members and the general public, and we think the Council is breaching the Disability Discrimination Act.

Their cheaper, half-sized alternative is a first-floor toilet above Millie's in Lion Yard

but this is inadequate...

  • no space for wheelchairs
  • WCs upstairs are totally unsuitable for people with disabilities
  • fewer cubicles of all types
  • removal of dedicated baby-changing facilities
  • access by stairs useless for many, and lifts are unreliable and too far away
  • service will be worse as both attendant posts to go
  • the Council admits that there has been absolutely NO CONSULTATION
  • what about non-shoppers needing a city-centre loo - where will they go?

Liberal Democrat Executive Councillor Neil McGovern said "he regretted" making this decision. So why do it?

Change your plan now!

Do Lion Yard and Grand Arcade care about disabled shoppers?
They have already removed the seating!

How you can help...

  1. Sign our petition and take a petition form to get your friends, family and co-workers to sign too.
  2. Write a letter to the Cambridge News or ring your local radio station. Andie Harper on Radio Cambs was outraged when he heard about the plan to close these loos.
  3. Write to, ring or email the City Council Leader Sian Reid, and Councillor Neil McGovern. Demand that the ruling Liberal Democrat Councillors reverse this crazy plan.
  4. Email Gerri Bird of the Cambridge Forum of Disabled People at to express your support or obtain petition forms.

Stop the closure of Lion Yard Ground Floor Toilets!

Demand that the Council treats everyone fairly
- including the disabled!

(The leaflet was Printed and Published by the Cambridge Forum of Disabled People; the campaign is supported by trades unions Unison and GMB.)

save the Lion Yard toilets

*Survey results showed 117,387 visits in a six-week period.

Gerri plans to hand in the petition to Cambridge City Council during the next full meeting on Thursday 17 February. Watch this space.


  1. I wish the campaign every success. Is Julian Huppert on the case?

  2. Cllr McGovern has denied saying he regretted his decision:!/nmcgovern/status/35456074203004928

    Do you have a source?

    (I think this decision to close/"move" the toilets, and the reasoning behind it, is bonkers. There's no reason councillors can't consider the public interest when the council is acting as a landlord; if that's the advice councillors are getting then we need to elect better councillors prepared to stand up to, and reject, what they're being advised they should do.

    The Lib Dems have rejected this once, at a planning meeting, this was overturned by an unelected planning inspector (a scandalously anti-democratic system which needs reform).

    LibDems are in my view being inconsistent in that they are now supporting the proposals for the area, claiming they're looking at it from a different perspective - as landlords.


  3. Hi Ellee and Richard, I hope Julian Huppert is on the case, and will email him when I get back from work. If you want more information, the best person to ask is Gerri Bird (the lady in the picture) - - if you have any further ideas, both of us would appreciate them! - Ed.