The footstreets issue continues to be an important issue for many disabled people and Blue Badge holders. We mention both groups as we know not everyone who is disabled has a Blue Badge, and not everyone who has a Blue Badge thinks of themselves as disabled.
As it has been in the media again, we thought this was an important time to give an update on what’s been going on.
In mid-October, a group of people from disability organisations met with some council officers and North Yorkshire Police to discuss the footstreets. Represenatives from York Human Rights City were also involved. The meeting was independantly chaired and was a chance for everyone to raise concerns and highlight issues about the footstreet changes.
Then on 25th October, there were two meetings held at the council offices:
- A combined meeting between Customer and Corporate Services Scrutiny Management Committee & Health and Adult Social Care Policy and Scrutiny Committee which was attended by people representing disability groups as well as council officers and councillors
- And a combined meeting between Customer and Corporate Services Scrutiny Management Committee & Economy and Place Policy and Scrutiny Committee which was attended by York BID, York Civic Trust, Fedaration of Small Businesses for Yorkshire, Humber and North East England and also council officers and councillors.
Whilst both meetings talked about changes in the city centre, they focused on slightly different things.
The second meeting covered delivery bikes, what a family friendly city would look like, what city centre businesses need and how that could change in the next few years. Whilst all of these relate to the issues around the city centre, it was the first meeting which was most relevant to Blue Badge access.
The first meeting, the one where the disability groups were present, looked at how changes to the footstreets are affecting disabled people and Blue Badge holders. After a short presentation from officers, the disability groups were able to introduce themselves and their concerns around the changes. The chair from the mid October meeting was present and gave a summary of that meeting. Further York Human Rights City Network discussed their recent report.
After introductions, the meeting was opened up to questions and comments. Helen, from YDRF, asked for data about vehicle/pedestrian incidents and speed limits in the footstreet areas. She also mentioned the apparent lack of respect that disabled people are being shown in the city, pointing out we are residents, we are council tax payers, we are parts of families. The quality of Equality Impact Assessments were discussed.
It was highlighted that there will not be one solution, instead different solutions will be useful to different people. A jigsaw made up of these different solutions may help reduce the number of vehicles in the city centre. However there will still be people who need to use their Blue Badge to drive into the city centre. If they cannot have vehicle access to the footstreets, they will be excluded.
The impact of the footstreet changes leading to isolation and loneliness were raised, along with statistics about the impact that isolation and loneliness has on physical and mental health, as well as life expectancy.