A transport minister has described the government’s accessible transport advice body as “a creature from another era”, as he tried to justify the decision to abolish it.
Liberal Democrat Norman Baker was speaking as two members of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) were in north London to help him launch government reform of the blue badge parking scheme.
Four months ago, the government announced that DPTAC would be abolished, as part of its so-called “bonfire of the quangos”.
Baker accepted that DPTAC had played an important role in advising on the reforms, and he said: “We also listen very carefully to DPTAC.”
But when asked by Disability News Service why the government was scrapping the advisory body, he said: “They were created in a time when legislation did not mainstream disability issues. They are a creature from a different era.”
He said the government would “still have access to the expertise” but would “just arrange it in a different way”.
Dai Powell, chair of DPTAC, replied: “I am a creature from a different era and hopefully for the future as well.”
He said the government had worked “very closely” with DPTAC on its blue badge reforms.
When asked whether he was happy that the government was abolishing DPTAC, he said: “It is important for us that the views of disabled people are heard at the highest level.”
Helen Dolphin, a DPTAC member and director of policy and campaigns for the charity Mobilise, who was also at the launch, added: “We also have to recognise that although there have been improvements it is still very, very difficult for disabled people to get around.
“There has been progress but it is still a very inaccessible transport system for disabled people.”
She said later: “I sincerely hope there will be a successor body.”
14 February 2011