The new leader of City of York Council has made it clear that nothing is off the table when it comes to access to the city centre.
And that includes making changes to the anti-terror bollards which are now being installed at a cost of £3.5 million.
Cllr Claire Douglas, the leader of the Labour group that has just won power, says they “have to find a way” to allow blue badge holders to access the city centre – a key pledge of their election campaign.
“We’ve spoken to senior officers already, over a period of time there’s been feedback from the police, MI5 etc, about the options that are open to the council,” she told YorkMix Radio.
“And they’ve been very clear that council, the politicians, me and my team, we need to make decisions around where the need for safety for the city lies – and also the access requirements for people who absolutely have no other way of accessing city centre than with their blue badge.
“So we have to make this work.
“The bollards and the barriers are going in at the moment. And if we find that they haven’t been put in correctly, and there are problems with them around accessibility, obviously that will need to be changed.
“We have to make this work. At the moment. In York, we have 6 or 7,000 blue badge holders that are excluded from the city centre. That’s a portion of our community and it just can’t go on.”
City of York Council agreed to the installation of the movable bollards last summer – despite the cost spiralling to £3.5 million.
Police say the measures are necessary to mitigate against a hostile vehicle attack by terrorists. The bollards will slide into place when the footstreets are operational, and away again to allow traffic through at other times.
But the ban on blue badge holders parking on the footstreets brought in as part of the package drew outrage from disabled groups who said it effectively barred them from York city centre.
Cllr Douglas said there’s no deadline set for the reversal of the blue badge ban but “we just want to get it done as quickly as possible”.
She said it was her job as council leader “to take complex information about risky situations and make a judgement on where your risk level lies against other considerations, human rights, accessibility, and come to a compromise.
“That’s our role. We have to make those difficult decisions, and we’re just ready to do it.”
What use are bollards apart from making it hard for public to access the city there is only need for managed bollards at the entry and exit points where blue badges and any other entry pass can be inspected for validation to enter the area
This would also mean that those who use the blue badge illegally would be found and blue badges seized and the driver find
The person who the blue badge belongs to would have to reapply for the blue badge and would also get a warning letter about the illegal use of badge and that if is used again illegally it would be permanently removed from them
This would solve the problem for everyone else by catching the selfish lazy drivers who think that they can do as they like because the law does not apply to them