Once again, the executive member for Transport, Cllr Andy D’Agorne, has shown he has not paid attention at meetings, including those he chaired, about how footstreet extensions exclude blue badge holders from the city centre.

In his letter in the Press of August 28 he stated that ‘more than half of disabled residents responding to the council survey last November supported the car-free environment created by the extensions to the footstreet area.’

In the council’s questions, when they use the expression ‘disabled people’ it refers to those people who answer yes to the question ‘Do you consider yourself disabled?’.

There is a separate question regarding being a blue badge holder. The council also excluded from the data those blue badge holders living outside the council’s geographic area who are also affected.

This shows, once again, a failing to understand that not all disabled people are blue badge holders.

And once again, Cllr D’Agorne is cherry picking statistics to support his car free agenda and selectively deciding what he responds to. The survey he refers to actually indicates that 78 per cent of people who are blue badge holders disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement ‘There is parking close enough to allow me access to the city centre’.

When York council refer to disabled people supporting the measures they mean that people agreed with the statements:

  • ‘Extra room to allow social distancing increases my safety’
  • ‘Fewer vehicles on pedestrianised streets increases my safety’

While many people agree that extra room and fewer vehicles does increase a sense of safety, safety and accessibility are not in opposition to each other.

We would encourage him to cite his statistics, as we have repeatedly done in communication with him.

When he refers to 2,000 instances of blue badge parking in the city centre, for example, he fails to state what area he means. Further, 2,000 instances in July means an average of less than 67 per day or, given a generous eight-hour day, less than nine per hour. Given that York alone has almost 8,000 blue badge holders, and there are over 28,000 holders in surrounding North Yorkshire, this is a drop in the ocean.

When utilising the existing blue badge parking in the city centre, the area most blue badge holders are able to get to does not allow them to visit the Changing Places toilets, Parliament Street, Coney Street and many of York’s key destinations.

He then goes on to raise the matter of the 30 year old footstreets, essentially admitting that the situation was bad already. By extension, this would mean that any extension of this area would worsen the situation.

Similarly, as if to reinforce that he’s not listened to a word that’s been said at meetings, he states that ‘Dedicated parking bays/locations on double yellow lines around the edge of the car-free central area, extra funding to Shopmobility and Dial-a-ride and resting points are proposed as well as dropped kerbs, ahead of the longer term November decision’.

These have been demonstrated to be only of value to a minority, although any improvement to the footpaths in York is clearly welcome.

Finally, he says that York does need to be inclusive and that includes regard for people with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, ie disabled people. Right now, he is showing very little regard for us.

Signed by York Accessibility Action on behalf of:

  • York Accessibility Action
  • York Disability Rights Forum
  • York Private Hire Association
  • York Unite Community

Along with a number of individuals supporting the letter who wanted to be included as signatories:

Jane Baston, Co-Chair of the Young Greens, Ann and Brian Bevan, Jane Burton, Victoria Cornford, University of York (Students Union) Disabled Students Officer, James Doherty, Rose Drew, P Kendrick, Ken King, Wendy Loveday, Rita Milne, Anne Norton,Sue Norton, Christopher Norton, M Phythian, J Rodmell, Diane Roworth, Allison Shirbon, John and Lindsey Steele, Ray & Danila Taylor, Natasha Thomas (Disabled resident of York)