What is the city centre access issue?
A big issue affecting York’s disability community at the moment is around the extended footstreets. Essentially, in June 2020, the footstreets area (or pedestrianised area) was temporarily extended to allow for better social distancing. However, this meant that streets that had previously allowed Blue Badge holders access were now closed to Blue Badge holders. The temporary decision was made permanent on 18th November by members of Executive – made up of Liberal Democrats and Green Party councillors.
The vote by Exectutive means Blue Badge holders can no park or be dropped off on the streets in question between 10.30 and 5pm. This is now permanent. Further, they voted to temporarily make this 10.30-7pm so pavement cafes can continue. They will also start the process of consultation around making the 5-7pm aspect permanent.
These streets included Goodramgate, Blake Street and Lendal and allowed Blue Badge holders to park close enough to get to important facilities such as cash machines, banks and opticians and places such as Betty’s, Browns and Boyes. Being able to get to cafes and restaurants allowed for Blue Badge holders to meet up with friends and family and engage in common social activities.
Blue Badge holders can be eligible for a variety of reasons but some key ones include:
- not being able to walk 50 metres or more;
- not being able to walk without help from someone else or using mobility aids;
- walking is very difficult due to pain, breathlessness or the time it takes;
- walking is dangerous to your health and safety;
- if you are constantly a significant risk to yourself or others near vehicles, in traffic or car parks;
- if you struggle severely to plan or follow a journey;
- if you need to be able to quickly return to your vehicle.
These mean that if you can’t park, or be dropped off, close to your destination, you are going to struggle to get to that destination, or may not be able to get there at all. So those shops, restaurants, banks and more are now, often out of reach. They are no longer accessible.
The footstreet area was originally extended (temporarily) to allow for increased social distancing, and then for pavement cafes, and then the council started the process around making the changes permanent. Now this is the case, all those places Blue Badge holders couldn’t get to temporarily, are now permanently out of reach.
But isn’t York a Human Rights City?
York Human Rights City Network and CYC Human Rights and Equalities Board have both issued statements about the footstreets.
What’s been happening?
Any council decision like this requires a certain degree of consultation, some legal bits and pieces and lots of meetings… This means that it’s a long process and it’s easy to get confused.
To try and help simplify the complicated process, we’ve got some resources:
- Reasons why the council want the footstreet extensions to be made permanent, and our thoughts on the reasons
- A simple timeline of events
- A timeline of our related blog posts
- A much more detailed timeline
- Media coverage on the subject
One of our members shared her thoughts on the footstreet extensions with us: