A Labour councillor has hit out at City of York Council over delays to removing barriers across the city that breach the 2010 Equality Act.
Cllr Rachel Melly and other local councillors planned to use ward funding to remove barriers to Hob Moor and elsewhere earlier this year, to allow unhindered access for disabled cyclists and mobility scooters, as well as for other users including those with pushchairs, family cycle trailers, cargo-cycles and non-disabled cyclists who use the route.
But she was told to halt the plans earlier this year as the council said it would address the problem through central funding for the whole city.
Cllr Melly explained:
“The council said it would report back on what it planned to do but has not done so after months of complete silence. It is currently breaching the Equality Act by creating barriers to access for disabled people in a number of parts of the city, including at Hob Moor in the ward I represent, but also in Micklegate, Rawcliffe and Clifton Without, and Huntington and New Earswick wards, to name just three.
“And now we are even seeing the council paying people off for its legal breach, instead of taking the action required to ensure that it complies with its Equality Act responsibilities. This is a ridiculous situation which is both discriminating against disabled residents and costing the York taxpayer completely unnecessarily”.
York Cycle Campaign has compiled an extensive list of where barriers are entirely preventing or significantly impairing people’s ability to use cycle paths, particularly if they are disabled.
A York Cycle Campaign spokesperson said:
“Cycling provides freedom to so many people. But barriers like those at Hob Moor slice off entire sections of the city to people with limited mobility. Up and down the country these kinds of outdated barriers are being taken out, literally expanding people’s horizons.
“No ill effects have been reported from barrier removal, but here in York we’re really disappointed to find the council intent on defending the citadel and staying in the dark ages”.
The push to remove the barriers pre-dates the council’s decision to ban disabled blue badge holder access to York city centre, meaning the twin problems of blocked access have led to the charge that disabled residents are being “barred from town, and barred from country”.
Cllr Melly continues to seek action, challenging the council’s Deputy Leader to act:
“I have written to the council’s Green transport boss, Cllr Andy D’Agorne, who I believe understands the importance of a functioning cycle path network, but I’ve yet to receive any response to suggest that these barriers are going to be removed.
“The longer this goes on the more the council is compounding the problem of a long term trend of declining cycling rates in York by making it difficult for people, be they disabled or non-disabled, to get around the city by bike”.