DAME Judi Dench has thrown her support behind a campaign to reverse the ban on Blue Badge holders from York city centre's footstreets.

The Oscar-winning actress from York said the city centre was a 'rare jewel that should be free for all to enjoy, including those with a disability and for whom accessible parking is essential.'

Dame Judi, who suffers from the eye condition, age-related macular degeneration, said: "As someone living with sight loss, I know only too well how gaining access to places can be exceptionally difficult. 

"York city centre should be fully accessible through these types of schemes.

" I should like to offer my wholehearted support to people in the City of York who are asking the local council to reconsider any ban to the blue badge scheme in the city centre.”

Dame Judi is Patron of The Wilberforce Trust,the York-based organisation which supports people with visual and hearing impairments and is one of 27 disability- and age-related and allied organisations that have come together in the Reverse the Ban coalition to fight a 'discriminatory' ban that was made permanent by City of York Council in November 2021.

Dame Judi joins a growing list of well-known figures that want a reversal of the ban, which the LibDem/Green-runauthority has said is necessary for anti-terror bollards to be installed to protect people from hostile vehicle attacks.

Professor Tom Shakespeare CBE, disability activist, academic, and regular presenter on BBC Radio 4 including Point of View, said on a recent visit to York: “Disabled people are a part of society – the time to end the discrimination that prevents us playing a full part in the life of the city is long overdue.”

York paralympian and University of York graduate Beth Moulam, who is reliant on a wheelchair accessible van and essential communication technology that needs to be kept dry, said: “Having a blue badge is not a perk or a luxury in life for me.

"And in the case of my gran, she can only walk short distances on even surfaces with a walking frame. Sadly, York’s policy has made our home city a no go area for us both.”

Stephen Miller, MBE, founder of SMILE Through Sport, paralympian, speaker and writer said: “As an electric wheelchair user, I know how difficult transport can be. Being able to travel by car and park near destinations is essential for many disabled people to be able to get out and access towns and cities.

"I urge the City of York Council to rethink their strategy and make provisions for disabled people to be able to access the City centre by car. We should be empowering disabled people to be an active part of society, not putting barriers in the way.”

Their comments come as council elections loom in May which could lead to the scrapping of the ban, with both Labour and the Conservatives having pledged to axe it if they gain power.