Following agreement to restore Blue Badge holders’ access to the city centre from 4 January 2024, residents are being invited to help shape and further improve the city centre’s accessibility.
The first phase of consultation on restoring access sought and secured agreement on five key areas. These shaped the decision on operational measures needed to restore access to the city centre for Blue Badge holders throughout the day. Over 3,030 people took part in that consultation. Of them, over 80% agreed to four of the five principles and, with 40% of respondents expressing concern about closing access during events, discussions are taking place with Make It York to consider how to make events more accessible.
On 12 October senior councillors on the Council’s Executive agreed to restore access to the city centre, in effect ‘reversing the ban’. Blue Badge access is now a permanent feature of the city. The consultation is to help understand from residents’ lived experience, how to improve both access measures in the short term and, in the longer term, by adding to the City Access Plan.
The restored access is:
- From 4 January 2024, Blue Badge holders will now be able to drive into the city centre when the footstreets are in operation from 10:30am-5pm. Their access will be via the staffed, sliding bollards at the junction of Goodramgate and Deangate, Church Street (two way) and out via CCTV-controlled sliding bollards at Colliergate.
- Once the installation and connection of the hostile vehicle measures is complete (expected Easter 2024), access for Blue Badge holders will also be via staffed, sliding bollards at Blake Street, through St Helen’s Square and out through CCTV-controlled sliding bollards at Lendal.
Residents and Blue Badge holders will continue to be able to drive into the city centre outside these hours.
To help make sure these access arrangements help the disabled community, the Council wants to work with disabled residents and others to understand how this access will work, and how it can be improved now and in the future. And to help Executive make an informed decision about the steps the council will take to ensure Blue Badge holders are able to easily and effectively access the city centre, an accessible and inclusive programme of engagement activities will be held from December to February. These include online consultations, workshops run by independent access specialists in collaboration with the Centre for Applied Human Rights and the council’s Access Officer and are for disabled residents and visitors, carers and city centre businesses. We are currently informing all York’s Blue Badge holders about this programme.
Workshops held in December will address how to make the measures work as well as possible in the short term. Workshops in the New Year will seek to co-produce longer term solutions that ensure the city is as accessible as possible to all.
Disabled residents and visitors, carers, businesses and café license holders will be invited to:
- Complete the survey online at www.york.gov.uk/BlueBadgeAccess or pick up a paper copy from West Offices’ Customer Service Centre or Explore Libraries. Completed surveys can be returned to West Offices, Customer Service Centre, Station Rise, York YO1 6GA, or scanned and emailed to OurBigConversation@york.gov.uk . Please return the consultation forms by 4 February 2024.
- Join in accessible workshops in December to identify immediate short-term improvements and in February to explore longer-term options to make the city centre more accessible. The first two of ten workshops will be held at the Friends Meeting House, Friargate, York YO1 9RL on 15 December 10am-12noon and on 16 December 2-4pm. These dates replace those publicised in York Disability Week and the other eight dates will be publicised early in the new year.
- Explore policies to make the city centre more accessible, identifying points where access is difficult on maps of the city centre. These will be displayed at the workshops in December and in February.
- After 4 January 2024, Blue Badge holders will be given access to the city centre at Goodramgate by support marshalls. They will offer a postcard inviting Blue Badge holders to share their thoughts about how to improve getting into and getting out of the city centre based on their lived experience.
- Later in November, the Local Transport Consultation will launch inviting all residents, visitors and commuters who travel in York to consider all aspects of transport and travel, including accessibility, of the whole of the city (not just the city centre).
Consultation and engagement materials will be available in accessible formats. Workshops will be held for different groups who share characteristics.
Cllr Katie Lomas, Executive Member for Finance, Performance, Major Projects and Equalities at City of York Council, said: “Thank you to the 3,030 participants of Phase 1 of this consultation who have helped us progress to the next phase of the consultation.
“Shaping the city centre so it is accessible for everyone is a key priority for us. By listening to and learning from the disabled community, including about how to improve Blue Badge access to the city, we will understand how to make sure the city is welcoming for everyone.
“We want to build a better understanding of how to make the city centre more accessible, in the short and longer-term and hear your views on all possible options.”
Cllr Peter Kilbane, Executive Member for Transport and Economy at City of York Council, said: “I want to apologise to Blue Badge holders for the decision to close the city centre and the harmful impact this had had on you.
“By not only reversing the ban as promised, but by listening to and learning from all those affected, we can and will do better to improve access now and in the future. We have made the decision to open the city and reverse the ban; now we need to learn how to improve access beyond the measures being introduced on 4 January 2024.
“York is a city that is welcoming and vibrant, where it is right that everyone can enjoy all the city has to offer. Shaping the city centre so that it is accessible will help ensure the city is, and remains, welcoming for everyone. Your voice counts: please join us at the workshops or add your views to the consultation.”
Professor Paul Gready, Co-Director of the Centre for Applied Human Rightsat the University of York, said: “We welcome the decision to reverse the ban on Blue Badge holders’ access to the city centre. There remain significant challenges in making our city centre accessible to all, but we are committed to supporting a process to try and bring this goal about.”
Please get involved in this important consultation at www.york.gov.uk/BlueBadgeAccess from 20 November 2023 to 4 February 2024.
To get involved in the wider consultation on the Local Transport Pan Strategy which has a theme on accessibility, please visit www.ourbigconversation.york.gov.uk.
Keep in touch with consultation events by signing up to Our City e-newsletter at www.york.gov.uk/form/EmailUpdates