The Conservative Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council has declared its unwavering support for local people who have disabilities.
Opposition councillors today met with local campaigners, including Access BANES, to highlight access issues in Bath city centre.
The meeting took place on this year’s UNESCO International Day of Persons with Disabilities, an annual awareness day which aims to raise awareness about disability issues and drum up support for greater equality.
Cllr Vic Pritchard, Leader of the Conservative Group, and Deputy Leader Cllr Karen Warrington heard how the Liberal Democrat administration’s current plans for the Ring of Steel would leave some of the most vulnerable members of society barred from entering their own city.
Under the current proposals, the Ring of Steel will also see a 24/7 ban on food and parcel deliveries into the secure zone, with residents required to apply for permits for larger deliveries. This, Conservatives say, is an unnecessary and impractical imposition on peoples’ lives.
Cllr Pritchard said: “The Conservative Group has today offered its full support to local people who have disabilities and who are trying to get a fair deal for themselves and others.
“With the Liberal Democrat administration’s current plans to impose a Ring of Steel around the city centre, residents with mobility challenges and other disabilities are simply being forgotten.
“The meagre compromises the administration has made on the Ring of Steel do not go far enough and risk alienating a large section of our community.
“That’s why we’re using this international day of awareness to remind the administration of the responsibilities it has under the Equality Act to ensure people with protected characteristics are not excluded from society.”
Cllr Pritchard and Cllr Warrington also met with Cllr Charles Fifield, member of Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council, and Cllr Dom Morris, member of Gloucestershire County Council. Both these councillors highlighted their own successes in improving access for disabled people in their areas, and provided valuable advice based on their own experiences.
Cllr Kevin Guy, the Liberal Democrat Leader of B&NES Council, this week admitted that the original draconian plans for the Ring of Steel – which involved complete exclusion of access to the city centre for all residents – was “appalling”.
Cllr Pritchard added: “I am delighted to see Cllr Guy finally admit how damaging the initial proposals were. I implore him to cast a similarly critical eye over the revised plans and realise, as so many others have already, that they are still unfit for purpose.”