City council executive members will decide on Thursday whether to make permanent a temporary ban on blue badge holders parking on city centre footstreets. Here, charities representing disabled people and others write an open letter to the people of York explaining why they oppose the move...

People of York,

Your elected members and employees of the council are trying to exclude disabled people from the city centre.

Disabled people are just like you. We enjoy shopping and going for coffee and visiting the wonderful independent businesses in York city centre. We are people, we have friends and family that we want to meet up with, we are human beings and we are residents of York.

As human beings, we have human rights, and as disabled people we have additional protection under the law. We have the right to non-discrimination which says we shouldn’t be excluded from services or a social life or employment because of our disability. We have the right to accessibility, and we have the right to participate in society.

Anytime someone has a right, there is someone else who has a responsibility, and the council has responsibilities around equality both in terms of human rights and the Equality Act 2010. Under the law, the council should be working to eliminate discrimination, yet City of York Council are instead actively discriminating against people with a Blue Badge.

They should be working towards equality of opportunity between those of us who are disabled and those who are not. Again, they are widening the gap, not closing it.

They are supposed to be fostering good relations between disabled and non-disabled people. Clearly if we cannot meet up with friends and family in the city centre, or support local businesses, we have far reduced opportunities to engage in York’s community.

By being able to access the city centre, we can create a space where we can co-exist, live alongside each other and support each other.

Given the council’s failure to foster good relations, we are here asking you to support us. If the council does not see fit to do so, will you?

Whether you are aware of it or not, you will know a disabled person: we are a fifth of the population. Some of you will become disabled in your lifetime. You may not be a Blue Badge holder but the way disability has been talked about and openly discriminated against in York should be of upmost concern to all residents. Yes, it is Blue Badge holders whose rights are being taken away at the moment, but if we, as a city, allow that to happen, we open the door for further, future discrimination against all disabled people.

This is about more than disabled people who have a vehicle, it’s about Blue Badge holders who used to be able to use taxis to get to a suitable drop-off point in the city centre. It’s about knowing once you’re in the city centre, you can get picked up again, whether it is by taxi, or by friend or relative. Having a blue badge is not a perk; it's essential for independence and inclusion.

We also don’t feel like the council is giving you credit. They are repeatedly making statements that assume non-disabled people don’t want Blue Badge holders to have access to the city centre, to have their rights respected.

There is clear evidence from other cities, and from an independent expert report the council itself commissioned, that there are solutions which reduce the traffic in the city centre whilst allowing Blue Badge holders access. We are not talking hundreds of vehicles here, we’re talking about 60 a day on several streets at different times of day. There are simple, as well as technological solutions, that can facilitate access, some of which are proposed by the independent consultants which allow permit holders through. This is not hard and is being done elsewhere in England and the world.

York Disability Rights Forum, on behalf of a coalition of disabled people and representative organisations across the city of York, including:

Ageing Without Children (AWOC) York; York Accessibility Action;York Access Hub; York Carers Centre; York CVS; York Cycle Campaign; York Human Rights City Network; York ME Community; York Older People’s Assembly; York Private Hire Association; St Sampson’s Social Centre​; York Sight Loss Council; MySight York; Older Citizens Advocacy York; The Wilberforce Trust