On 28th August, a letter appeared in York Press from Councillor Andy D’Agorne making a statement on ‘York’s Blue Badge battle’. York Disability Rights Forum would make like it very clear, we do not want a battle, we don’t feel that pitting people against each other is productive. We welcome co-production, effective consultation and active communication.
The letter suggested, amongst other things, that extra funding to Shopmobility and Dial-a-ride offers a mitigation to the closures. York Accessibility Action are asking local people and organisations to sign the following open letter. Please email them if you’d like to add your name by 6th September.
Once again, the Executive Member for Transport, Councillor Andy D’Agorne has shown he has not paid attention at meetings, including those he chaired, about how footstreet extensions exclude Blue Badge holders from the city centre. In his letter in the York Press of 28th August 2021, “Cllr D’Agorne makes statement on York’s blue badge battle”, he stated that “More than half of disabled residents responding to the council survey last November supported the car-free environment created by the extensions to the footstreet area, which are Goodramgate-Colliergate and Blake St-St Helens Square – Lendal.”
In the council’s questions when they use the expression “disabled people”, it refers to those people who answer yes to the question “Do you consider yourself disabled?”. There is a separate question regarding being a Blue Badge holder. The Council also excluded from the data those Blue Badge holders living outside the council’s geographic area who may also be affected.
This shows, once again, a failing to understand that not all disabled people are Blue Badge holders. Given the remit of the role, this might suggest the need for some equality, diversity and Inclusion training at the council?
Once again, Cllr D’Agorne is cherry picking statistics to support his car free agenda and selectively deciding what he responds to. The survey he refers to actually indicates that 78% people who are Blue Badge holders disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement “There is parking close enough to allow me access to the city centre”.
When they refer to disabled people supporting the measures they mean that people agreed with the statements:
- “Extra room to allow social distancing increases my safety” 168/431 (39%)
- “Fewer vehicles on pedestrianised streets increases my safety” 150/431 (35%)
Whilst many people agree that extra room and fewer vehicles does increase a sense of safety, we are yet to hear how many incidents there were between pedestrians and Blue Badge holders in the city centre. Further, safety and accessibility are not in opposition to each other.
We would encourage him to cite his statistics, as we have repeatedly done in communication with himself. When he refers to 2000 instances of Blue Badge parking in the city centre, he fails to state what area he means. Further, 2000 instances in July means an average of less than 67 per day or given a generous 8 hour day this makes less than 9 per hour. Given that York has almost 8000 Blue Badge holders alone, and there are over 28,000 holders in surrounding North Yorkshire, ignoring other possible summer visitors this is a drop in the ocean.
When utilising the existing Blue Badge parking in the city centre, the area most Blue Badge holders are able to get to does not allow them to visit the Changing Places toilets, Parliament Street, Coney Street and many of York’s key destinations. Even Betty’s is now out of bounds.
He then goes on to raise the matter of the 30 year old footstreets, essentially admitting that the situation was bad already. By extension, this would mean that any extension of this area would worsen the situation.
Similarly, as if to reinforce that he’s not listened to a word that’s been said at meetings, he states that “Dedicated parking bays/locations on double yellow lines around the edge of the car-free central area, extra funding to Shopmobility and Dial-a-ride and resting points are proposed as well as dropped kerbs, ahead of the longer term November decision”. Both of which have been demonstrated to be only of value to a minority, although any improvement to the footpaths in York is clearly welcome.
Finally, he says that York does need to be inclusive and that includes regard for people with a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 i.e. disabled people. Right now, he is showing very little regard for us.