York’s counter-terrorism measures make the center a ‘no-go’ for people with special needs | York

Disabled rights activists are planning a legal challenge against York Council after it voted to ban blue-badge parking on major downtown streets.

York Accessibility Action (YAA), an organization founded by the disabled York Residents and caregivers said the city has become a “no-go area” for many disabled people and there is now no adequate parking within 150 meters of the city centre.

They believe that the council’s unanimous vote to halt disabled parking in pedestrian zones to make way for terrorist defenses is a violation of the law. Equality Act 2010 and human rights of residents and visitors with disabilities.

They have instructed disability discrimination attorneys and are exploring whether they have a case for judicial review.

On Friday they launched a crowdfunding campaign to help cover legal fees and quickly raised nearly half of their £5,000 goal.

The parking ban was first introduced in the summer of 2020 during the pandemic to increase social distancing on the streets around York Minster.

But the council voted Thursday to make the ban permanent, despite the objections of disabled residents and activists.

Alison Hume, a member of the Young People’s Association (YAA) whose son Edward Mitten, 22, has autism and complex disabilities, accused the council of discrimination and “permanently excluding the disabled” from the city.

She said it is not only a parking problem, but also a problem for disabled people who take taxis and those whose cars can be safe spaces, cafes and toilets when they are out of their homes.

Hume, who spoke at Thursday’s meeting, said: “The board does not listen to us when we tell them about the misery of the disabled and their families…Maybe they will listen to us if we can prove that they discriminated against the disabled.”

She said many disabled people avoid York all together if they can because, she said, “it has become a no-go area.”

The group said that all attempts to reach out to the council failed to produce a meaningful result and that they were left with no choice but to seek legal action.

Blue badge holder and YAA member Natasha Rawnsley said she hadn’t been able to get to York since last fall, saying it had become “impossible”.

A city council spokesperson said: “The council has a duty to protect the lives of residents and visitors, but we know that doing so with the same efficacy as police advise would have a significant impact on some blue badge holders.”

The spokesperson added: “Suggestions to improve access across the city include reintroducing the blue badge and parking spaces in Castlegate from September, and investing in additional blue badge parking spaces downtown.

“We have also committed to improving footpaths and access to toilets, installing seating, creating a new access officer role to lead future access work, and exploring the potential of an electric shuttle bus to help people with disabilities get into and around downtown.

“We know these actions will make a difference for many Blue Badge holders in the city and we will continue to engage with residents and partners on these issues.”

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