‘They’ve taken away my liberty and my independence and I am not going to stand for it or sit down for it.’
The words of Margaret, a retired business owner from York.
She was protesting outside York Guildhall last night, joining many others calling on the council to Reverse The Ban.
Blue Badge access to the city centre was cut by the council, as part of anti-terrorist measures brought in over concerns about hostile vehicle attacks.
Margaret was in a wheelchair. She has two artificial knees and an artificial right hip, plus scoliosis of the spine, and can’t walk far.
She told YorkMix: “It’s unbelievable that the council has been allowed to get away with this. It really is. And I will not be told how to live my life.”
Reverse The Ban York had organised the demo ahead of the full City of York Council meeting at the Guildhall.
Alison Hume of York Accessibility Action was demonstrating outside the side entrance to the Guildhall, after YorkMix revealed councillors were told to use it if they wanted to avoid campaigners.
She told YorkMix: “It’s a disgrace. I think that the Lib Dem and the Green councillors are ashamed of themselves because of two years of excluding people with disabilities from York city centre.
“So they want to creep in to their meeting without facing the people who are being affected by it.”
‘Review and reverse’ promise
At the meeting, Labour councillors handed in more than 2,700 postcards signed by people who are calling on the Lib Dem and Green-controlled council to reverse the city centre parking ban for disabled drivers.
The Labour Group has promised to review the issue and reverse it.
Cllr Rachel Melly told the meeting that disabled people needed access to the city centre “to access central services, to shop, to socialise, to work – to live their lives.”
She added: “It’s been said umpteen times before but I’ll say it again: disabled rights are human rights. The Blue Badge ban is discriminatory. Reverse the ban.”
Group leader Cllr Claire Douglas told YorkMix: “If we’re in control of the council in May 2023 when the next local elections are, we are going to review the ban and reverse it.
“We’ll find a way to keep the city safe, but at the same time allowing disabled people to get access to the services that they need.”