Unisex toilets decision set to be discussed

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COUNCILLORS are set to decide whether to scrutinise the decision to have unisex areas inside a new multi-million pound school.

The new open-plan toilet blocks at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, which are used by both boys and girls, have caused controversy among parents.

The furore led to one councillor calling for Andrew Jordon, headteacher at the 1,050-pupil school, to meet with councillors to publicly discuss concerns.

Conservative group leader Ray Wells submitted a Councillor Call for Action (CCFA) request claiming that “common sense has flown out of the window”.

He said there was a moral issue of having a unisex toilet area at a comprehensive school and questioned whether it was appropriate.

Coun Wells called on Mr Jordon to meet with councillors to explain the “thought process” behind the move, which Mr Jordon has previously agreed to do.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s scrutiny co-ordinating committee is due to meet this Friday.

Committee members are asked to consider whether it would be appropriate to undertake a scrutiny inquiry into the matter.

If they agree it will be referred to the relevant scrutiny forum.

The Mapleton Road school reopened earlier this month after a £12.4m Building Schools for the Future (BSF) revamp.

The toilet areas have three floor-to-ceiling cubicles each for males and females, with boys’ toilets just inches away from the girls’.

The new design sees both sexes walk out from the cubicles to the same room and use communal sinks.

As previously reported, Mr Jordon said the design is “the way forward in 21st Century schools”, insisting they are always monitored by a staff member and added it will combat “smokers’ corners”.

He has said he would be “more than happy” to meet councillors to explain there had been a “widespread consultation” on the re-building programme.

Mr Jordon added a small number of parents had contacted the school but their concerns were allayed when shown the new facilities.

The school spent 18 months working on the design with contractors Balfour Beatty and Mr Jordon said the open-plan format was a “stock-design” for the national construction firm.

The scrutiny co-ordinating committee is due to meet tomorrow at 2pm.