BLUE Badge holders are welcome in York’s city centre again, after a controversial ‘ban’ was today reversed.

The first cars carrying blue badge holders were allowed through the bollards at Goodramgate by members of the city council’s city centre access team at 12 noon today.

There were cheers from watching disability campaigners as they entered the city.

“It’s just fantastic!” said campaigner Marilyn Crawshaw of Reverse the Ban and York Disability Rights Network.

“Isn’t that brilliant to see, cars being able to drive through and blue badge holders being able to get back into their city. Just fantastic.”

York Press: Disability rights campaigners cheer as the blue badge ban is lifted at Goodramgate todayDisability rights campaigners cheer as the blue badge ban is lifted at Goodramgate today (Image: Stephen Lewis)

Wheelchair user Anne Norton added that blue badge holders had been excluded from the city centre for too long.

"It’s not nice, it doesn’t feel nice - and it is also very hurtful and damaging to the image of York to have the idea that blue badge holders aren’t welcome," she said.

"So it is very important for us blue badge holders to be allowed back into the city centre after being wrongly kept out for so long.”

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Re-opening the city centre to blue badge holders was an election pledge by Labour.

The council’s Labour leader Claire Douglas said today: “We couldn’t be happier to see disabled people in York being able to get back into the city centre again after far too long.”

But York’s opposition Liberal Democrats still oppose the reversal of the ban – arguing that it poses a potential security risk.

Lib Dem leader Cllr Nigel Ayre said: "York's Liberal Democrats have been consistent in following the advice of counter terror experts and the police that allowing vehicle access to the city centre's busy footstreets presents an unacceptable risk to residents and visitors.

"We have seen numerous examples at home and abroad of vehicles being used as weapons to kill innocent people.

"The Labour administration has not addressed the legitimate concerns that terrorists could gain access through tailgating, the coercion of legitimate blue badge holders (inside or outside the defences), or forged or stolen blue badges. The city's hostile vehicle defences are now functionally redundant.”


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For now, blue badge holders will only be able to access the city centre at Goodramgate.

Members of the council's city centre access team will be on duty there during footstreet hours to check blue badges, then radio through to control to open the barriers.

Members of the access team have been 'specifically trained to know what they need to ask for and what they’re looking for for the presentation of the blue badge to make sure it’s all done appropriately', Cllr Douglas said.

After getting through the barriers at Goodramgate, cars and other vehicles carrying blue badge holders will then be able to drive along Goodramgate and into King’s Square. They will leave the city centre via Colliergate.

In the spring, however, a second ‘loop’ is expected to be opened, which would allow vehicles carrying blue badges to access the city centre at Blake Street, before exiting at Lendal.

Blue badge holders are allowed to park on double yellow lines in the city centre for three hours, said Cllr Katie Lomas, the council's executive member for equalities.

“There are also parking bays at various points as well,” she added.