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Improving access for disabled people “priority” MP tells charity chief

Harrogate’s MP has assured the head of a town-based charity that improving access for disabled people is a key priority for him.

Roads Minister Andrew Jones made the pledge in a letter to Jackie Snape, chief executive of Disability Action Yorkshire, who had written to him asking him for an update on plans to review the law on pavement parking.

Last year, MP Simon Hoare put forward a Private Members’ Bill calling for the law to be changed so that vehicles could only be left on specially designated footpaths.

However, he withdrew it after one of Mr Jones’ ministerial colleagues, Robert Goodwill, stated that improving access for all pedestrians remained a Government priority.

In her letter, Mrs Snape highlighted the fact that inconsiderate parking by motorists was affecting the ability of disabled people living at the charity’s Claro Road care home to get out and about and access a wide range of facilities.

She also pointed to a recurring problem on Robert Street, where drivers were continually blocking the drop curb and ramp outside the St Robert Centre.

In one incident, bollards put there to prevent cars from parking, were removed, causing real problems for those with mobility issues trying to enter the building.

Mr Jones said that he fully appreciated the difficulties Mrs Snape had described to him, and urged her to contact Harrogate Borough Council who would take the necessary enforcement action.

In addition, he revealed he had been in round table discussions with representatives from the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee Guide Dogs, Living Streets and civil servants from his own department.

He added that whilst he could not give any details of the conversation at this stage, his team was now looking at the legal and financial implications of an alternative regime and the impact this might have on local authorities.

Mrs Snape said:

Because we hadn’t heard anything on the matter for a number of months, I wrote to Mr Jones in his capacity as our local MP and a junior minister in the Department of Transport.

I was delighted to read about his meeting with representatives from disabled charities and that improving access for disabled people is high on his list of priorities.

Parking on pavements in a real problem for not only wheelchair users, but many other people too, including mothers and fathers with push chairs and the visually impaired.

Whilst I’m pleased the government is taking this issue seriously, and may well introduce legislation as a way of combating it, I would like to urge all drivers think   carefully where and how they park.

If it’s going to obstruct a footpath, then please consider parking somewhere where it won’t cause a nuisance to others.

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