Blue badge ban will shut out disabled residents from York city centre

York Council’s plans to permanently ban blue badge holders from driving in pedestrianised streets during the day will shut disabled people out of the city centre, warns York Sight Loss Council.

The campaigning group, which advocates for blind and partially sighted people in the city, joins representative groups such as the York Disability Rights Forum to oppose the plans.

A spokesperson for York Sight Loss Council said:

“Not being able to enter the streets by car or taxi, could stop disabled people being able to independently use city centre facilities including shops, restaurants, banks and cultural events. The effect of this policy will result in the city centre becoming a no-go zone for very many disabled people and creates a barrier to us to enjoy our city alongside everyone else. There are real fears for personal safety and enforced reliance on carers or support workers. If we are excluded, this will lead to further isolation and loss of confidence to visit independently.”

York council extended the pedestrianised zone in the city centre at the start of lockdown, installing barriers and bollards to prevent vehicle access between 10.30am and 5pm. The council now plans to make a traffic regulation order to make these changes permanent.

In an attempt to address the concerns of disabled people, the council has outlined plans to increase blue badge bays at the edges of the pedestrianised area. Councillor Andy D’agorne has also called for shuttle services, improved access routes to priority car parks with blue badge bays and improved shop mobility schemes.

But disability campaigners say these measures don’t go far enough.

A spokesperson for York SLC said:

“The proposed blue badge bays will be located on the fringes of the extended pedestrianised zones at a significant distance from city centre facilities. People with disabilities need to park as close as possible to their destination. If these plans go through they will have no alternative than to rely more heavily on support workers or family members – if indeed, they have this support.”

York Sight Loss Council will be writing to York council objecting to the plans and urges the local authority to drop these proposals.

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