York Accessibility Action tell us who they are and what they’ve been up to:
“In the summer of 2020, City of York Council closed various streets that Blue Badge holders were previously permitted to access, including Goodramgate and the streets after it to through traffic (apart from a range of ‘permitted’ vehicles) along with removing what was once Blue Badge parking on the double-yellow lines on the grounds of ‘social distancing’. Other streets we could no longer access included Blake Street and Lendal. In reaction Alison Hume, on behalf of her disabled son Edward, started a petition to get the decision reversed, that currently stands at 2334 signatures.
Following the petition, a group was formed named York Accessibility Action (YAA). This was co-founded by Alison Hume, Edward Mitten, Jane Burton and Mick Phythian and was made up of disabled people, their family and carers, all of whom were directly affected by the footstreets closures, although not all have Blue Badges.
The group appeared alongside York Disability Rights Forum at each council meeting regarding the closure, helping to building a united front against the decision to exclude Blue Badge holders from the centre of York. In the background YAA explored legal challenges whilst contacting groups and individuals in other cities like Bath where similar decisions were being made.
In November 2021, following the Council Executive meeting decision making the exclusion permanent the next steps were taken by YAA in the form of a crowdfunding campaign to help meet legal costs. The initial target of £5000 was met within a few days and a stretch target of £10,000 was created to try to ensure that barrister’s charges and other legal costs could be met. The well-known disability rights lawyer Chris Fry had agreed to act on our behalf and the money was going to the legal firm he is a consultant with.
On his advice we created a Google form to collect details from as many people as possible who had been excluded to act in a private law case and seek compensation and a change to the closures from the council. We encourage all those affected by the closure of the particular streets, and the council’s pitiful attempt at reasonable adjustments or mitigation to add their names to it.
Whilst people think the Equality Act 2010 improved matters for disabled people, it has proved to be otherwise when one attempts to take legal action, and the barriers one has to deal with are very high. This is the reason the legal case is likely to be prepared in multiple directions with the Equality Act one taking longest time. We are therefore building up cases involving the loss of access under private law, the nature of the Traffic Regulation Order the council has been employing, and finally, the biggest hurdle to us, whether the council failed in its duty under the Equality Act.
YAA are also a part of the coalition of groups covering a range of disabled and older people’s organisation along with concerned, influential others but YAA are taking the lead on the legal action. Anyone wishing to join YAA’s mailing list or help on the campaign or legal case can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.”