Mayor’s staff refuse manifesto delivered by disabled campaigners


Staff working for London’s mayor have refused to accept a manifesto of demands for improvements to public transport that was delivered to his offices by disabled campaigners.

Staff and volunteers from Transport for All (TfA), which campaigns for accessible transport for disabled and older Londoners, tried to deliver the manifesto to the Conservative mayor, Boris Johnson, following a protest outside the City Hall offices.

But City Hall staff refused to accept the manifesto, which instead had to be left propped up outside the building’s front entrance.

Faryal Velmi, TfA’s director, told them: “It is completely ridiculous that we are in City Hall and we are being asked to send this to the mayor in the post.”

More than 50 disabled people had attended the protest outside the offices near Tower Bridge.

Johnson had earlier failed to turn up at a pre-election “hustings” event organised by TfA and Inclusion London, even though his three other main rivals attended and answered questions from an audience of about 100 disabled Londoners.

TfA has set out a “charter for change” to transform the accessibility of London’s transport network.

Velmi told the hustings event: “It is scandalously true that in 2012, Deaf and disabled Londoners are often treated like second-class citizens as we try to get around this city and live our lives.”

The manifesto lays out suggestions for bus, tube and rail travel, and door-to-door services, and calls for improvements set to take place during the Olympics and Paralympics – including extra staff and volunteers and manual ramps providing platform-to-train access – to continue after the games.

The manifesto has five key demands: penalties for bus companies that fail to meet minimum access standards; a target for a third of tube stations to be step-free from street-level to train by 2018; restoring hundreds of staff lost through last year’s cost-cutting at London Underground; every bus stop to be accessible by 2018; and the lifting of a cap on Transport for London’s (TfL) contribution to the Taxicard service, which has led to “swingeing cuts” to the service.

The manifesto also criticises Johnson’s new “bus for London” as an “expensive missed opportunity” to improve accessibility.

It also points out that TfL set a target in 2006 of a third of all tube stations to be step-free by 2012. That promise was withdrawn and the latest target is for just 26 per cent of stations by 2018.

TfA says that only 15 of 270 tube stations are completely step-free from street-level to platform and from platform to train.

Among the other changes called for in the TfA manifesto are for a high-profile publicity campaign to remind parents with buggies that wheelchair-users have priority in bus wheelchair spaces.

No-one at City Hall was prepared to comment on the refusal to accept the manifesto.

A spokesman for Johnson also declined to comment.

22 March 2012


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