The deputy Lord Mayor of York has apologised after the mayoral limousine was spotted parked in the city’s foostreets.
Councillor Janet Looker said she “wasn’t thinking hard enough” when the vehicle pulled into Goodramgate at 6.30pm on Sunday.
The image, posted online by Ben Phillips, provoked a strong response as City of York Council’s executive recently voted to ban blue badge holders from driving into the city’s footstreets.
York Disability Rights Forum said the photo was “further confirmation that disabled people and blue badge holders are seen as second class citizens by City of York Council.”
While York Accessibility Action tweeted: “Absolutely disgraceful that City of York Council think it’s one rule for disabled people and another one for them.”
Cllr Looker, who has represented the Guildhall ward for Labour since 1996, said: “I should have thought this through and made alternative arrangements – I wasn’t wasn’t thinking properly.”
On her way to church
She said that when she was previously Lord Mayor, the car used to have permission to go into the footstreets at certain times.
Cllr Looker was on her way to Holy Trinity Church on Sunday.
She added: “If you get something wrong, you just say, yes, you’re sorry. And you don’t faff about and try and pretend it was anything other.”
Cllr Looker is a former leader of the opposition Labour group – which has been leading a vigorous campaign to overturn the blue badge parking ban.
Labour’s transport spokesperson Cllr Rachel Melly said in November: “A number of disabled people gave personal testimony and explained exactly why a blue badge holder ban would leave them excluded, and the council officer report even acknowledged some disabled people would be excluded from York city centre.
“Yet still ruling councillors opted to approve the ban regardless. This is a discriminatory decision that has left a lot of disabled people feeling disregarded.”
Blue badge holders were until recently exempt from the ban on vehicles being inside the city’s footsteets.
But the council’s executive recently voted to remove the exemption, which caused uproar in the disabled community and beyond.
The council has said the move was necessary to bring in new counter-terrorism measures.
Janie Berry, director of governance at City of York Council, said: “We are sorry the civic car entered footstreets at Goodramgate on Sunday evening, 5th December.
“It should not have done so, as it did not have permission. We are investigating to understand exactly how this happened and to make sure it doesn’t happen again”.