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Throughout the Covid Pandemic a variety of experiments have been undertaken in the management of public spaces in order to accommodate social distancing, typically by creating more pedestrianised spaces to broaden pavements and to extend outside meeting or dining spaces.

Many have been introduced by experimental or temporary Traffic Regulation Orders in the context of public consultations.

The York scheme began as an experimental one brought in at the beginning of the Covid pandemic but was gradually extended until the Council made it permanent following a vote on 18/11/2021.

Disabled people and campaign groups in York were quick to report that extending pedestrian spaces essentially meant that important parts of the city had become inaccessible to them.

Finding parts of cities and towns off limits is not only damaging to individuals, but also businesses who will lose out on the substantial spending power that disabled people bring to the High Street. According to the spending power of disabled people and their household continues to increase and in 2020 was estimated to be worth £274 billion per year to UK business.

I have been involved in similar challenges before in Worksop, Colchester and Reading, and like those cases, there are a number of legal issues to explore in a very short period of time.

The Council has obtained and disclosed a Barrister’s opinion demonstrating that it is aware of its responsibilities to have due regard to the impact of the decision pursuant to s149 of the Equality Act 2010, and in isolation these challenges are always difficult because they focus on procedural outcomes; essentially identifying and notifying an impact is sufficient to demonstrate compliance.

However, these challenges are also multi-faceted. Together with a team from York Accessibility Action and with legal support from Barristers specialising in UNCRPD, Human Rights, Equality Act reasonable adjustments, and Local Authority Traffic Regulation Orders, I am urgently exploring the viability of various legal challenges.

All eyes are on York as other Councils and Boroughs around the country consider taking similar action, so this challenge is important.

If you would like to support fundraising for the case, please follow the link at:

Claims are being brought for compensation as well as policy change, and to register for the case people can complete the following form with BSL Guidance at this link: Join the Legal Action

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