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Protest ‘exhibits energy of feeling’ on York’s blue badge ban – Incapacity Information Service

By Tom McDonough

A protest outdoors York council has been hailed as an essential step in disabled individuals’s year-long combat towards the choice to ban blue badge-holders from their metropolis centre.

Reverse the Ban, a coalition of disabled-led organizations and allies, held the demonstration outdoors a full council assembly final week to protest towards Metropolis of York Council’s “discriminatory choices adversely affecting disabled and older residents”.

The protesters (pictured) handed council members greater than 2,700 signed postcards, every of them calling on Liberal Democrat council chief Keith Aspden to reverse the blue badge ban.

disabled campaigner Flick Williamswho performed a key position in organizing the protest, mentioned: “It went fabulously effectively.

“There have been round 60 individuals there. It was essential by way of exhibiting the council the energy of feeling on the market concerning the discriminatory actions of this council.”

She added: “Later within the night, the Labor councilors all stood up and went to the desk within the heart of the chamber and put down their sacks of postcards.

“There have been greater than 10 sacks in entrance of the council chief, with the lord mayor sitting behind him. They actually will be beneath little doubt now concerning the energy of feeling.”

Among the many disabled-led organizations campaigning towards the ban are York Accessibility ActionYork Incapacity Rights Discussion board and York Individuals First.

One of many postcards handed over had been signed by a number one disabled educational, professor tom shakespearewho slowed the marketing campaign his help whereas on a go to to York.

He mentioned: “Disabled individuals are part of society. The time to finish the discrimination that forestalls us taking part in a full half within the lifetime of the town is lengthy overdue.”

York’s personal Paralympian, Beth Moulam, mentioned: “Having a blue badge will not be a perk or a luxurious in life. It’s a cheap adjustment that many depend on to be able to participate.”

The ban prevents automobiles, together with these with blue badges, from getting into York’s pedestrian “footstreets” zone from 10.30am to 5pm on daily basis of the week.

Launched initially by the council to create extra space for pedestrians amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the exclusion zone was made everlasting a yr in the past to “create a safer and extra engaging metropolis heart and to scale back internal metropolis air pollution”.

Since then, a council equality influence evaluation (EIA) and a council-funded report by consultancy Martin Higgitt Associates have each discovered that the withdrawal of auto entry from the town heart has had a powerful detrimental influence on disabled individuals.

However whereas the EIA advisable that the council continues with the scheme so long as it offers improved blue badge parking on the outskirts of the realm, the Higgitt report rejected the scheme, saying that “blue badge motorized entry into the footstreets for disabled individuals with further wants is required”.

Members of Reverse the Ban have cited the Higgitt report in addition to the council’s public sector equality obligation when making their case, however they’ve failed up to now to influence the council.

Williams mentioned: “No one from the ruling administration got here out to speak to anyone final night time.

“We truthfully consider the one manner it is going to get modified now’s with a change of management.”

She added: “This administration does not wish to [reverse the ban] and we predict it is as a result of they consider within the wholesale commercialization of the general public realm.

“By shutting us out it is allowed them to have pavement cafes all over the place within the metropolis, which after all is one other drawback for disabled individuals to get about.

“The cafés are forcing individuals into the highway however it’s a highway nonetheless stuffed with automobiles (supply and refuse, for instance) so you’ll be able to think about how terrifying that’s if you happen to’re visually impaired, for instance, particularly as a few of these automobiles are electrical and silent.”

She added: “It is made it a nightmare for all disabled individuals. We all know many disabled individuals who now simply do not go into the town heart in any respect as a result of even when they’ll bodily get there, it is simply too troublesome to get round.”

Reverse the Ban is now contemplating hanging giant print copies of 650 of the postcards across the metropolis as the subsequent stage in its marketing campaign.

Williams mentioned: “That’ll imply individuals can see simply how disabling the blue badge ban is.”

The council advised Incapacity Information Service that the council’s govt member for transport, Andy D’Agorne, had spoken to protestors, whereas different govt members had supplied to reply questions earlier than becoming a member of the assembly.

However the council refused to touch upon the signed postcards, or to say if it was accepted that the protest confirmed the energy of feeling concerning the blue badge situation, or if it believed its strategy was discriminatory.

It additionally refused to say why it had not accepted the findings of the Martin Higgitt report, if it accepted that its actions had been breaching its public sector equality obligation beneath the Equality Act, or if it accepted that the brand new pavement café tradition within the metropolis heart was putting disabled individuals in danger and making it too troublesome for them to get round.

However Neil Ferris, the council’s company director of place, mentioned in an announcement: “We would like our historic metropolis to be accessible and inclusive for all.

“The engaging options, cobbles and slender, medieval streets of York’s heart current challenges to these with mobility points, whereas attracting giant customer numbers which may create safety dangers.

“York, like cities together with Chester and Newcastle, is putting in measures to fight the specter of ‘car as weapon assaults’, like these seen in Liverpool, Toronto, London and Good, following recommendation from counter-terrorism consultants and the police advising emergency car entry solely.

“We acknowledge that listening to suggestions from, and the lived expertise of, disabled residents is an important a part of making our ambition of getting a protected and accessible metropolis heart a actuality.

“Work is ongoing to enhance varied entry facets throughout the town, together with the creation of further dropped kerbs, additional blue badge bays and enhancements to Stonegate to make historic streets extra accessible.

“Additional work on this will probably be knowledgeable by a specialist entry guide.

“Dial-and-ride companies, wheelchair-accessible buses and Shopmobility companies proceed to help individuals to get into and across the metropolis heart alongside York Wheels [a community transport charity].”

This information story is a part of an ongoing Incapacity Information Service sequence that highlights the very important work of the UK’s disabled individuals’s organisations.

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