Thousands join heated debate on loo fracas

Hannah Sperry with her fiancee, Jonny Lawrence, and their one-year-old daughter, Luna EMN-150809-094514001
Hannah Sperry with her fiancee, Jonny Lawrence, and their one-year-old daughter, Luna EMN-150809-094514001
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A heavily pregnant Melton woman in desperate need of the loo said she was “absolutely gobsmacked” when she was refused permission to use the toilet at a town café.

Hannah Sperry (22) and her family were so angry about the incident they shared the story on Facebook, sparking a huge online debate which has gone viral.

The Chalkboard cafe in Windsor Street, Melton EMN-150809-130626001

The Chalkboard cafe in Windsor Street, Melton EMN-150809-130626001

Chalkboard café, in Windsor Street, has since apologised and explained its decision regarding only letting paying customers use its toilets but its apology seems to have done little to stem the tide of negative comments.

Hannah, who is 30 weeks pregnant, was walking past the café with her fiance, Jonny Lawrence, and their one-year-old daughter, Luna, on Friday when she went in to ask to use their loo.

She said: “We were on our way home but I just couldn’t hold it. I went into the cafe because I assumed they would have a toilet.

“I was absolutely gobsmacked when the person behind the counter said ‘for paying customers only’.

“I had to go next door to a lovely man, Neil Rockett, in the Melton Health Store who offered to help me.

“I really want to say a big thank you to him. I dread to think what would have happened if he hadn’t helped me. I probably would have been humiliated publicly which doesn’t bear thinking about.”

Jonny added: “Hannah came out of the cafe and told me they refused to let her use their toilet so I went in. I asked ‘did you refuse my pregnant fiance to use your toilet?’ The guy said ‘yep’. I said ‘that is absolutely disgraceful’. The man just said ‘for paying customers only’. When I asked him if he realised she was heavily pregnant he just replied ‘yep’.

“I was really angry because of the disregard shown for Hannah. I told him I would be writing a horrible review about his cafe online.”

A posting on Chalkboard’s website said the incident had “spiralled out of control” but the cafe apologised for its decision regarding only letting paying customers use the toilet facilities.

The post added: “We made this decision after we had allowed a non-patron use the facility and, after the person had left, it took my wife nearly an hour to clean the toilet, floor, and yes even the walls. So we are afraid it was a case of once bitten twice shy. I hope that you accept our sincere apologies.”

Staff at the cafe said a sign saying ‘toilets are for use of customers only’ had always been displayed on its front door.

The Melton Times gave Chalkboard the opportunity to comment further and expand on its online apology but it declined our offer.

Elizabeth Duff is senior policy adviser at the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), the UK’s biggest charity for parents. She said: “We would urge businesses such as cafes and restaurants to be considerate and understanding towards the needs of pregnant women who will need to use toilet facilities more frequently, especially in the latter stages of pregnancy.”

A Melton Council spokeswoman said: “As far as the council is aware there’s no law that requires private establishments to offer their facilities in these circumstances.”