Young mum’s Lancaster Town Hall breastfeeding outrage

Chloe Davis from Lancaster with baby Jasper.
Chloe Davis from Lancaster with baby Jasper.

A young mum has been left feeling shocked and angry after a row over breastfeeding at Lancaster Town Hall.

Chloe Davis says a council worker told her to breastfeed her three-month-old son Jasper in the toilet.

A city councillor has called this “appalling” and said she will write to complain to Lancaster City Council’s chief executive.

The council has apologised saying it was a “misunderstanding” and that the staff member thought Miss Davis wanted to breastfeed in 
private.

Miss Davis, 19, went to the town hall with Jasper on Tuesday.

“My landlord has sold the property where I live and given notice so I was there to talk about new housing,” she said.

“I was in a meeting room with a male member of staff and my baby started screaming. I tried rocking him and tried his dummy but he was hungry.

“So I asked him is it fine to breastfeed, just out of courtesy really because it’s against the law to say no. It was more so he could leave the room if he felt uncomfortable.

“He said he would just check, he went outside to speak to a colleague, and came back and said that they’d never had this before and I could feed him in the toilets. He was pushing me to use the toilet.

“I said ‘I’m not feeding my baby in the toilet, that’s not hygienic’.

“My support worker was with me. She used to breastfeed and was quite angry.

“He said I could go in a private room out of the way of the public. I felt embarrassed and stupid. So I went along with it and went into the private room.

“I put a status about it on Facebook and it had 140 shares.

“Councillor Abi Mills contacted me. She was furious about it.

“I was a bit shocked. I can’t believe it happened at the town hall. It’s never happened to me before.”

Afterwards, Miss Davis went straight to a young mums group where she spoke about what happened and told members of the group never to be afraid to breastfeed in public or a public building.

Councillor Abi Mills said she would complain to the council chief executive on Chloe’s behalf.

“It’s appalling,” said Coun Mills, who represents Scotforth West.

“It’s irrelevant if it was in a public or a private room, it’s about the way she was made to feel. I’m going to suggest training for members of staff. They need to treat people with respect.

“I’ve had three kids, I breastfed for six years and ran a breastfeeding group so I’m passionate about it.”

Coun Oscar Thynne, who represents John O’Gaunt ward, also backed Miss Davis.

“I was shocked to see this incident had happened,” said Coun Thynne.

“Mums should have the freedom to breastfeed wherever they are. It’s now about taking action to raise awareness and make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

A spokesman for Lancaster City Council said: “Lancaster City Council welcomes anyone wishing to breastfeed whilst accessing its services to do so freely in both its public areas as well as any private areas which can be made available if they so wish. On this occasion, it was understood that in asking what breastfeeding facilities were available to customers, that the lady wished to breastfeed her child in private rather than in the public customer service waiting area and was offered a private interview room which she accepted.

“The use of the purpose built disabled facilities with baby changing area (available to customers on demand) was another option offered to Ms Davis at the time.

“We apologise for the distress this apparent misunderstanding appears to have caused.”

The NHS website says: “You shouldn’t ever be made to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public.

“In fact, the Equality Act 2010 has made it illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place, such as a cafe, shop or public transport.”