Disability rights groups say the UK’s 2.4 million blue badge holders suffer discrimination due to increasingly stringent restrictions on cars in cities.
The Disability Rights UK charity says some councils are flouting equality laws, with social distancing measures, increased street trading and anti-terrorism barriers, reducing opportunities to park near shops and services.
Although 15% of the population has a disability, only 4% have a blue badge, which allows them to park on the yellow lines and in most car parks for as long as they need.
In York, the city council faces the possibility of a legal challenge after granting itself a building permit to erect permanent security barriers to prevent all vehicles from entering much of the city center from 10:30 a.m. everyday.
Helen Jones, a wheelchair user with complex health needs and a member of the York Disability Rights Forum (YDRF) Steering Group, says barriers are a form of discrimination and violate equality law.
âA lot of us can’t walk very far down this street,â she said, pointing to the shops and the pharmacy beyond the new Goodramgate barrier.
“If I want to go out with friends, I have to be able to park so close that I can walk the 10 meters I can walk to get to where I’m going.”
A crowdfunding appeal by YRDF raised more than Â£ 5,000 to assess whether the group has grounds for a judicial review of the council’s planning consent.
âThe blue badge in itself is already recognition that we cannot go as far as the others,â she said.
“It’s a mitigation that puts us somewhere on the same level as someone who doesn’t have a disability.”
The city council said it had acted on the advice of the police and described its expanded pedestrian zone as a complex and difficult decision.
In a statement, he said: “We have done everything possible to consult and listen to residents, businesses and local groups over the past two years, so that we can consider the many different voices and make a decision. balanced.
“We recognize that in doing so, some people may come to a different conclusion than ours, but it was a decision that was made through an open examination of the issues.”
Fazilet Hadi of Disability Rights UK believes councils across the country do not take the needs of people with disabilities seriously enough and fears that the tightened restrictions in York may be copied elsewhere.
“It’s almost like an apartheid situation, I think it’s so serious,” she said.
“I think other cities will seek to keep their downtowns car-free, but people with disabilities need to be at the table when these discussions take place.”