Concerns about disabled access into and around York city centre are growing as the city thinks about ‘opening up’ and the removal of Blue Badge access remains in place. Added to this now are concerns around the accessibility of outdoor seating spaces, an issue which greatly affects many of York’s disabled community, including those with visual impairment.
What’s happening now
The current national roadmap to recovery means restrictions on people’s movements and activities will lift, so more and more people will go into the city centre. However, the removal of Blue Badge access to the footstreets still remains in place and is set to continue until at least September 2022, with City of York Council looking to make this permanent.
It’s expected that there will be an increase in cafés and restaurants using pavements and outdoor spaces for seating, as well as public seating areas springing up all over the city centre.
There will be opportunities to take part in consultations on these matters with the council. It’s key that these areas, including pavement cafés, are accessible to everyone, including disabled people with a range of different needs, so we encourage all members of the forum to take part in any consultations with the council.
We’ll keep you informed of any and all that we find out about. If you haven’t already, sign up as a forum member or ally to keep up to date by email. You can follow the forum on Twitter and Facebook, or join our Facebook members group.
What you can do
As well as taking part in the consultations, if you find any issues with trips into York city centre as things open back up, we encourage York’s disabled community to send feedback to City of York Council by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Challenging councils around the UK
York isn’t the only place where the Equality Act is being disregarded to focus on economic prosperity. Recently plans for a ‘car-free’ part of London have been successfully challenged in court and ruled to be in contravention of the Equality Act 2010. The case used evidence from “a number of individuals with protected characteristics who explained the severe adverse impact of the decisions on them”.
The court ruling is currently in the appeals process but has implications for a legal challenge against City of York Council on similar grounds.