York SLC member Anna Baldwin on the impact of York Council’s Blue Badge ban

York Sight Loss Council continues to challenge City of York’s ban on Blue Badge parking in York’s city centre. It supports other advocacy groups in the area to challenge this discriminatory ban legally.

Despite a public outcry and campaigning groups’ efforts, including York Sight Loss Council, councillors in York voted unanimously to permanently prevent disabled parking in pedestrianised areas.

The now permanent ban on Blue Badge holders from driving on pedestrian roads during the day is forcing people with disabilities out of the city centre, warns York Sight Loss Council.

Sight Loss Council member, Anna Baldwin, spoke at the council meeting about the traffic regulation order and its impact on blind and partially sighted pedestrians. She said:

“Important locations in the city are now inaccessible to elderly and disabled people if they are unable to access these places by car.”

Anna shares her story

The Blue Badge ban has immediately impeded Anna’s day to day life.

Shortly after attending the council meeting in December Anna found herself unable to reach St Samson’s community centre – a social group for visually impaired people that she attends regularly.

She said:

“I simply could not find my way there with a long cane from the Piccadilly bus stop and had to be rescued by a search party sent out from the centre. We have decided not to use this otherwise very suitable venue and are worried that we will not run other activities there as we had planned before the ban.

“Taxi drivers have told me that they regularly dropped elderly people at this friendly, and once very accessible, facility but it is now hard to reach unless one can get a seat on the York Wheels bus, which is the singular vehicle allowed to go there.

“At the council meeting, I learned that only about 40 cars a day used to use the exemption for Blue Badge holders to drive through the foot streets before the rules changed. Surely the City Council could arrange for such a limited number of cars through the barriers? The consultant the City hired to investigate this issue recommended a ‘spine’ of driveable road (for Blue Badge holders) down Blake St and Parliament St while the foot streets were in operation. Blue Badge cars could even be allowed to park along this route which would restore access to the city to many of its disabled residents who can only walk a short distance. The point is to find a solution – not to pull the shutters down.”

In December, York Sight Loss Council contributed £1000 to York Accessibility Action’s legal action fundraising campaign bringing the fundraiser to its target of £10,000.

The group’s legal team are now reaching out to over 40 potential Claimants and are preparing the case for injunctive relief to overturn the discriminatory decision in York.

More about York Sight Loss Council

York Sight Loss Council is an advocacy group led by blind and partially sighted volunteers. We tackle key issues in our community, from campaigning to improve the accessibility of our streets and public spaces to education, employment, healthcare, sport and leisure and public transport.

Find out more here

Publication date: 13 January 2022

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