Fair Access to Colchester are very disappointed with the initial outcome of the Statutory Review at the High Court.
Essex County Council acknowledged in their evidence for the first time that they were aware many Blue Badge holders would be unable to make their way to the High Street/Head Street from the additional spaces provided in existing parking locations on the other sides of the town centre. We were surprised that the judgement did not concern itself with the adequacy of these parking locations.
Essex County Council argued that in such cases disabled people should shop elsewhere, or in other parts of the town centre. We feel this is unfair, partly because the High Street represents a particular kind of experience not replicated elsewhere, but also and most importantly because we continue to maintain that other options put forward by the group were never fully and positively explored.
As a group we knew when starting the process of legal action that it wouldn’t be easy. The Equality Act only came into force in 2010 and cases like ours are still breaking ground, and challenging the interpretation of the Act. We feel that the trial was temporarily halted mainly in response to the legal cases brought against the council, and as a group we continue to hear from many people with mobility problems worried that the orders could be put back in place at any time, with little or no change on the Council’s part. How we best continue to go about representing such ongoing concerns is our priority at the present time.
The judge has today granted permission for an appeal on the basis that the issue is of such wide importance.