Today we hear from Mick, one of our members, about the city centre blue badge parking issue.
Welcome to Disability History Month (18th November – 20th December) and in particular the run up to York Disability Week (28th November – 5th December).
Throughout very recent history disabled people have had to fight for their human rights and they are still fighting. The continuing exclusion of Blue Badge holders from the centre of York displays just one aspect of the Theme of 11th Year of UK Disability History Month which is Access: How far have we come? How far do we have to go?
It’s also over 40 years since Motability was created to provide cars for disabled people and now provides them, electric wheelchairs and
scooters to some 650,000 people in return for some or all of the Personal Independence Payments they receive from the Department of
Work and Pensions. The key image from that is that the motor vehicle facilitates independence for disabled people but only if they are
permitted to park near to where they wish to be. The motor vehicle can often be much more than a mode of transport, it can also be a safe place or retreat (especially during the pandemic), to unload shopping (carrying is an issue when mobility impaired) a place to toilet or somewhere to safely take medication, amongst other uses.
City of York Council remains disingenuous in its treatment of disabled motorists. I have years of communications on file with the Council
promising to make things better in the future, instead they have made it worse year on year. The much vaunted full review of city centre parking was announced as long ago as 2012 or perhaps before then – will this latest one actually happen at the proposed cost of £40,000? Meanwhile the exclusion is proposed to continue. Can Blue Badge holders at least have temporary access?
There once was a Green Badge scheme which allowed York residents parking in the centre but issues and renewals mysteriously stopped
around 2013 with promises of a replacement scheme that never appeared. This was probably at the same point the Council’s Equality
Advisory Group also disappeared.
Meanwhile the ability for Blue Badge holders to park in street after street in the centre was stopped for one excuse after another – “Reinvigorating York”, terrorism etc. Firstly Blake Street and Davygate, Kings Square then St Sampson’s Square – none of these were mitigated for. Now Goodramgate, Deangate, Coliergate and Castlegate.
There has never been a proper designated fully marked-out time unlimited Blue Badge bay in the centre of York, not a single one! The
Council expects people who are awarded a Blue Badge for their inability to walk more than 50 metres to park in car parks more than ten times that from the centre.
Much is being made of the Disabled Motoring UK review by officers but as it is a desk-based one by the chief officer of that organisation under council-set parameters it is irrelevant. There are numerous historic towns and cities not excluding Blue Badge holders such as Chester for a Roman walled city or more locally Harrogate, where as well as parking in central Harrogate one can park within Knaresborough’s narrow streets.
There are over 7,500 Blue Badge holder in the City of York area plus many more in the surrounding districts who travel to York to shop and
socialise, not forgetting the many unaccounted visitors who come to York not expecting to find the dearth of Blue Badge parking.
Meanwhile the Council removes parking areas one after another and proposes an app (which will discriminate against many) to try and find the back-street mitigation outside the centre they wish to visit. These same people are ones needing most protection from Covid-19, so forcing them to mix unnecessarily on lengthier journeys to whatever destination they seek (be it bank, Post Office, market or optician) is asking for trouble.
The social model of disability says that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference. In this example it is City of York Council erecting barriers and disabling its residents and visitors.