Campaigners say that an obsession with making York car-free is causing ‘parking chaos’.
Disability campaign group York Accessibility Action has reacted angrily to comments by Cllr Andy D’Agorne that “car parks are attractors of car journeys which add to the congestion and pollution issues”.
His comments came as the future of the planned multi-storey car park at St George’s Field was thrown into further doubt.
YAA co-founder Alison Hume said: “On the 15 June it will be exactly two years since disabled residents and visitors have been excluded from the city centre as a result of the extension of the city centre pedestrian zone and the dire mismanagement of parking arrangements for Blue Badge holders.
“We have long suspected that Cllr D’Agorne’s determination to ban all cars from York city centre lies behind the discrimination experienced by the disabled community, but these comments clearly set out his position in black and white.”
YAA has crowdfunded £10,000 to explore a legal challenge to the City of York Council’s decision to exclude Blue Badge holders and taxis carrying disabled and elderly passengers from the city centre.
It says that Cllr D’Agorne’s comments reveal the council’s parking strategy has now hit the buffers.
Ms Hume continues, “Saying he wants to attract people not cars would be laughable if it wasn’t so insulting.
“It reveals that the man in charge of transport in York has absolutely no understanding of how disabled people use their vehicles as mobility aids, safe places, a place to toilet, eat and medicate, let alone the inability to walk more than a very short distance – the reason people have been granted a Blue Badge in the first place”.
The planned closure of Castle Car Park ahead of the £32 million Castle Gateway scheme will lead to the loss of around 30 Blue Badge heavily used spaces.
It has been widely condemned by disability groups united under the #ClosedToUs banner as making it even more impossible to access the city centre.
YAA Co-Founder and Blue Badge holder Jane Burton says: “Transferring the disabled parking bays from Castle Car Park to St George’s Field, which is even further away, would make the situation even worse than it already is.
“Castle Car Park is already too far away from most places for me. I feel locked out.”
Expanding Blue Badge parking
Cllr D’Agorne, City of York Council deputy leader and executive member for transport, said they were working to expand city centre access to disabled people.
He said: “All council car parks make provision for Blue Badge parking and I am keen to see improved provision for all people with disabilities in the city centre, regardless of what mobility aid they find most suitable for their needs.
“That includes those who rely on a car, or travel by bus, taxi, park and ride or adapted cycle.
“Our historic city centre is very much open to all to access and enjoy which could be enhanced by reducing traffic by encouraging those who don’t need a car to travel by other means.
“I am sorry if anyone found my comments insulting when they were clearly not made in relation to Blue Badge parking which we are working to expand.”