The decision to reinstate specialist ‘changing places’ facilities at Morden Leisure Centre was the subject of great interest at a Merton Council meeting on Wednesday (July 4).

The facility at the new leisure centre in London Road will house an accessible toilet and shower, changing table and hoist.

There will also be a ‘pool pod’ by the pool providing access for disabled swimmers to get in and out of the water.

Last month a row broke out on social media after it appeared that the changing places had been removed from the plans.

But at the end of June, Merton Council confirmed they would be in the completed leisure centre, set to open this Autumn.

The first question on Wednesday came from member of the public Philippa Maslin.

She said: “Are there any other plans for changing places in the borough that the council is actively trying to promote?”

Cabinet member for community and culture Cllr Nick Draper said the council will be monitoring the use of the facility to see whether it should be rolled out elsewhere.

He said: “I think with the answer of reinstatement I am very much looking forward to the changing places being built and advising its use.

“I am looking forward to monitoring its use.” The subject was picked up later Cllr Carl Quilliam who followed up on Cllr Draper’s answer.

“Given that changing places toilets are needed for sections of our community to use certain public facilities at all, does the cabinet member think that usage is the most appropriate measure of whether we should have than in a building at all?” asked Cllr Quilliam.

His question was met with a long response in which Cllr Draper  opened up about his own experience of going swimming with his son, Gregory, now 33, who has disabilities.

He said: “You have to monitor usage and it is essential that we do so if we are going to provide this changing places room.

“I very much hope that it will be used and will be successful and very much hope that we wil be in the position to recommend despite the cost of this it  is worth putting elsewhere.

“I am a parent of somebody with extreme disabilities and I used to take him swimming long before the idea of changing places existed.”

Cllr Draper added that the lack of changing rooms was not the problem when the family went swimming.

“When he did not want to come out of the water what we could not do and what no amount of checks and legislation could do was to get a family friendly reaction from other users.

“It was always starting ‘aww poor thing’. Or worst of all avoidance or event disgust.

“It will take a seismic shift to change that.

"I don’t think changing places will change that but I do think it is a good thing.”