Unfortunately, every week we hear about the pain and inconvenience that people with disabilities and their families are suffering as a result of Haringey’s three new low-traffic neighborhood plans.
One of our members had to be dropped off in his usual minicab at a strange location nearly 400m from his home. Another woman had to apply for individual waivers more than a dozen times in the past three months to take her disabled son to various appointments at hospitals and general practitioners.
LTNs are popular with healthy, well-behaved people who enjoy walking, cycling and enjoying car-free streets. But it’s a different story for the elderly and disabled who rely on cars to access essential services, or simply to maintain social contact or meet visitors.
A recent study by the Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Transport Strategy confirms that people with disabilities rely more heavily on taxis, minicabs and other vehicles than other residents. Families caring for individuals with autism or learning disabilities experience particular difficulties when using public transport, from problems buying tickets to hostility from other passengers. The study also reported limited parking spaces for blue badges and low awareness of discount travel cards.
The Haringey Council introduced an LTN with limited public consultation and little consideration for people with disabilities who are most likely to be adversely affected. In response to the growing wave of protests, we have belatedly listened to our concerns and are considering various waivers.
The problem with the proposed measures is not just that people with disabilities, including those with learning disabilities, need Internet access and computer skills. You should also explain in detail why you need a waiver, justify the specific requirements, frequency and duration, and repeat these applications on a regular basis.
These requirements are so broad and intrusive that they amount to discrimination. Instead of forcing people with disabilities to follow this inflexible bureaucracy, we need a system tailored to the needs of people with disabilities.
Mary Langan chairs the Haringey Severe and Complex Needs Families Reference Group.