Council chiefs have voted to reverse the ban on blue badge access in certain pedestrianised areas of the city centre.

In June 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the requirement to queue outside shops, the exemption which allowed blue badge holders to park on some pedestrianised streets was temporarily removed under the previous City of York Council Liberal Democrat and Green Party coalition.

However, in September 2021 these changes were made permanent, which allowed a hostile vehicle mitigation measures project to be brought forward following warnings of terror risks in previous years.

The project included erecting bollards in areas where there is a high concentration of pedestrians.

But this move met with outrage from disability activists and even led to protests outside the council headquarters and Labour took control of the council from the Liberal Democrats and Green Party in the May elections after they campaigned to ‘reverse the ban’.

Labour’s executive member for finance, performance, major projects and equalities Cllr Katie Lomas, who is also a blue badge holder, said: “There can be no doubt of the impact by removing the blue badge holders from a minimal area in the pedestrian zone.

“Residents described the isolation they have experienced, and the need to travel to towns across the county to access basic services such as banks and opticians.”

Cllr Lomas added: “Imagine, for a moment, that somebody said to you today that you cannot go to shops, banks or other services in the city centre.

“Imagine they told you you can’t meet your friends for lunch or go to the cinema.

York Press: Cllr Katie LomasCllr Katie Lomas

“You’d be outraged, distressed and appalled.

“You’d feel victimised and that you’re no longer welcome, marginalised in the place you call home.”

But advice from security experts remains the same: the fewer cars that are in the secure zone of York, the less likely a terrorist attack using a vehicle will happen.


Leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group, Cllr Nigel Ayre said: “The advice, and the threat, is quite clear.

“It was entirely wrong for members previously to claim the security risk was imagined.

York Press: Cllr Nigel AyreCllr Nigel Ayre

“This was never a policy choice.

“It shouldn’t have been made a political football and it was, and remains, a gravely serious issue.”

However, deputy leader and executive member for economy and transport Cllr Pete Kilbane said: “It’s really very sad that the Liberal Democrats still support the exclusion of blue badge holders from the city centre.”

He added: “I’d like to apologise to everybody who’s been barred from this city by the old Liberal Democrat and Green councillor’s administration for these past few years.”

The council's executive voted to keep the hostile vehicle mitigation measures which will continue to operate.

But ruled they that blue badge access will be permitted to Blake Street, Lendal, St Helen’s Square, Goodramgate, Church Street, Kings’ Square and Colliergate through the hostile vehicle mitigation measures during pedestrianised hours.

They also voted to start the process and consultation of developing an anti-terrorism traffic regulation order and recognise some events may mean access is restricted during the event.