Euan’s Guide, a charity that documents disabled customers’ experiences in venues and shops, said businesses must not use their toilets as storage spaces.
A new #NotACupboard campaign seeks to raise awareness of accessibility issues, launching today on World Toilet Day (19 November).
One social media user said: “Over the years, I’ve been hit on the head by mops, had to wait on burly men to come and shift the beer kegs and watch bemused as rails of last season’s clothes be removed. All so I can access the lav.”
Another tweeted: “The restaurant must have been planning for Brexit as they filled their accessible loo with endless tins of Italian tomatoes... it took two members of staff ages to clear them out! My wheels weren't giving way for some tomatoes! #NotACupboard”.
Two thirds (67%) of respondents to the charity’s Let's Talk Toilets 2017 survey said that clutter in accessible loos was a big problem for them.
Now, Euan’s Guide is urging individuals to continue to fill out its 2018 access survey. So far, respondents have reported toilets being used to store objects from a 16th century fireplace to beer kegs to Champagne buckets.
This is not the first time these concerns have been raised. In 2016, a House of Lords select committee concluded pubs should face their licenses being revoked if they made access difficult in this way.
“We also encourage people to review the access of pubs and bars they visit, and we ask that the venue operators add their listing and disabled access info to the site so that disabled people can find great new places to go,” a spokesperson added.
Mike Adams, chief executive of disability rights group Purple, told The Morning Advertiser customers struggling to access disabled toilets was an issue prevalent across the out-of-home sector.
Purple Tuesday saw the nation’s first day focused on improving disabled customers’ shopping and dining experiences.
Adams said: "There are issues with toilets being used to store mops and buckets. We have asked disabled people to talk about their experiences, which we are collating.
“The data is still coming in but there is an issue around toilets not being accessible, because they have cleaning equipment in and the staff don't know where the key is.”
“That has certainly been my experience, but it is getting better,” he said.
Some 66% of respondents to The Access Survey 2017 felt that overall pubs and bars had poor accessibility – a slight improvement on the 2015 figure.
Almost nine in 10 (89%) respondents said they have avoided going somewhere because it did not have an accessible toilet, in the Let’s Talk Toilets survey.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), told The Morning Advertiser: “By their very nature pubs should be open to anyone, therefore I am pleased the #NotACupboard campaign is highlighting these accessibility issues.
“The vast majority of pubs, many of which are historic and restricted in terms of space as a result, are very accessible, but publicans wanting to improve their accessibility should view our access guide ‘An Open Welcome’.
"As one of the few organisations to produce an access guide of this sort, we will continue to remind our members about their responsibilities and best practice.”