Deaf and disabled activists have called on London’s mayor to make “radical improvements” to his strategy for developing the capital over the next 20 years.
Mayor Boris Johnson is carrying out a full review of the London plan produced five years ago by his predecessor Ken Livingstone.
Inclusion London, the new organisation working for the city’s Deaf and disabled people and their organisations organised a conference of more than 60 campaigners at City Hall to discover their views on Johnson’s draft replacement London plan.
The conference also heard from RADAR, Transport for All, the mayor’s London plan team, and Jenny Jones, chair of the London Assembly’s planning and housing committee.
Delegates called on the mayor to rethink his plans to lower targets for affordable homes and social housing, and said he should scrap his commitment to controversial “shared space” street design.
They also wanted him to ensure the implementation of proposals in the existing London Plan for lifetime homes standards in all new housing developments, for ten per cent of new housing to be wheelchair-accessible, and of its emphasis on inclusive environments, or “lifetime neighbourhoods”.
They also called for “significant” improvements to the mayor’s transport strategy, including a return to the original timetables for introducing step-free access to the capital’s tube stations, after the mayor deferred work on a number of stations to cut costs.
And delegates expressed concern that the draft plan fails to refer to the social model of disability and lacks analysis of the specific barriers facing disabled Londoners.
Johnson has faced similar criticism of his equality framework, which Inclusion London says is also “lacking many specifics” and omits any mention of disability hate crime.
The draft plan is out for consultation until 12 January.
Inclusion London said it would include comments from the conference in its responses to the draft London plan and the mayor’s transport strategy, and campaign for the needs of Deaf and disabled people to be “much higher up the political agenda in London”.
Jones said the assembly’s planning committee would make use of delegates’ comments and wanted the social model to be “reasserted explicitly at the heart of these mayoral strategies”.
Andrew Little, chief executive of Inclusion London, said he was “surprised” and “excited” by the level of energy shown at the conference – its first major event – by campaigners keen to fight for disabled people’s rights.
He added: “To get so many people at our first event was really encouraging.”
10 December 2009