Economy, Place, Access and Transport Scrutiny Committee

26 September 2023

Report of James Gilchrist - Director of Environment, Transport and Planning.



Blue Badge Holder Access


Subject of report.


1.           In November 2021 the Council’s Executive made the decision to permanently remove the exemption which had allowed blue badge holders vehicular access to Blake Street, Lendal, St. Helen’s Square, Goodramgate (between Deangate and King’s Square), Church Street, King' Square and Colliergate.


2.           The lived experience in a post COVID-19 world has evidenced the significant impact on disabled people. In response a coalition of charities, associations, action groups and other organisations have worked together to reverse the ban on blue badge holders’ access to York’s pedestrian streets.


3.           The York Labour Group’s Pledge and Policy List pledges to reverse the blue badge ban”.

4.           Executive have adopted the new Council Plan. The Executive report will seek to place the decision in that new policy environment also setting out options within the context of the Counter Terrorism Policing advice, the impacts on blue badge holders and the next steps to inform a decision to permit blue badge access be made.


5.           The recommendations, Equalities Impact Assessment and decision will be influenced by the consultation which ended after the drafting of this report.


Policy Basis


6.           The 10-year plan sets a vision that everyone can benefit from and take pride in the city with the Council Plan setting a priority that the council will set the conditions for a healthier, fairer, more affordable, more sustainable, and more accessible place where everyone can feel valued.


7.           This vision sets a clear policy that an accessible place is a priority to the Executive.

8.           In addition, the Executive has set out Four Core Commitments in the Council Plan adopted in September 2023 which are those outcomes they believe will most support the delivery of their vision. One of which is “Equalities and Human Rights - Equality of opportunity - We will create opportunities for all, providing equal opportunity and balancing the human rights of everyone to ensure residents and visitors alike can benefit from the city and its strengths. We will stand up to hate and work hard to champion our communities”.


9.           Previous decisions recognised the impact on blue badge holders and had to weigh up the negative impact in terms of equalities and human rights for a group with a protected characteristic in the context of wider human rights reflected in the Counter Terrorism Policing advice.


10.        A decision made at Executive will need to again consider this balance whilst recognising that this decision is influenced by one of Executive’s four core commitments to consider the impact of any decision on Equalities and Human Rights issues.


11.        The draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, also known as ‘Martyn’s Law’ in tribute to Martyn Hett, who was killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017, will ensure that security preparedness is delivered consistently across the UK, ensuring better protection of the public.

12.        The bill was developed with security partners, business and victims’ groups, including Figen Murray (Martyn’s mother) and the Martyn’s Law Campaign Team, and Survivors Against Terror, the new Law will require venues and public spaces to take steps to improve public safety.

13.        This will also likely see the introduction of legislation and/or guidance to strengthen the current legislation placing duties upon public authorities.


14.        Under the Equality Act, the Council must in the exercise of its functions have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation, and any other prohibited conduct; advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it and foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it. This is referred to as the Public Sector Equalities Duty.


15.        The Human Rights Act 1998 (“HRA”) states that it is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a right or freedom under the European Convention on Human Rights. The provisions of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 14 (protection from discrimination) have been considered and taken into account. These rights can be interfered with where the interference has a legitimate aim. For example, where it is necessary in the interests of other concerns including public safety and health or where it is necessary in the wider public interest, and it is proportionate.

16.        Executive will be asked to consider both the right to life and the protection from discrimination. Neither of these duties take precedence and the Executive will need to make a decision proportionately, having regard to all impacts, to reach a balanced decision including the Councils responsibilities under the Public Sector Equalities Duty.




17.        Scrutiny are asked to review the information contained within this report and review the draft Equalities Impact Assessment contained with Annexe A. This will need updating once the current consultation closes. Scrutiny are asked to make any recommendations to Executive to help inform their decision.


18.        Executive will be asked to consider a number of options:

19.        Option 1 – revert to two separate phases of Hostile Vehicle Mitigation. This would allow the highest risk area focusing on Parliament Street to be emergency/blue light vehicle access only. Blue badge access could then be permitted to the outer area as it existed immediately prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic as this area was defined as a lower risk area by the original risk assessment. See Annexe B.

20.        To determine if this is a credible option, a refreshed risk assessment would need to be undertaken. It is also not an immediate resolution to restoring blue badge access to the pedestrianised streets as it existed before the emergency measures in response to COVID-19, as it would take significant time to implement. The other issue is that this option would have significant capital costs of circa 2 million pounds. It would also introduce further construction works in the city centre, which like any construction causes disruption to residents and businesses, often with greatest impact on disabled people.

21.        Option 2 – This option is to make no change to the way blue badge access into the pedestrianised area operates. This would provide maximum mitigation to the security risks in accordance with the previous advice from Counter Terrorism Policing that any additional motor vehicles in a pedestrianised area poses a risk. However, it continues to disadvantage some disabled people and leaves the council open to accusations of discrimination.


22.        Option 3 – is to continue to operate the hostile mitigation measures and allow blue badge access into the secure zone. This conflicts with the historic advice of the Counter Terrorism Policing Teams and up to date advice is being sought. But it is a balance the Council needs to make. The risk is that vehicles within the secure zone can be commandeered and used as a weapon anywhere in the secure zone by those determined to do so.

23.        There is also the intrinsic risk of having any vehicles in an area where there is a public expectation of no vehicles. This risk could be reduced by also reinstating the exclusion of blue badge holders for the times the city is busiest such as the Christmas Market. This would mirror the risk prior to COVID-19. Although the Hostile Vehicle Mitigation Measures will prevent the delivery vehicles which access the footstreets during pedestrianised hours from physically being able to gain access.

24.        In addition, the introduction of a An Anti-Terrorism Traffic Regulation Order (ATTRO) would give the police powers to remove blue badge access for events or specific risks. An ATTRO is a counter terrorism measure pursuant to the provisions of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. Members may recall that a temporary ATTRO was put in place for the Maundy Thursday visit of the now King. This allows traffic orders to be put in place by the Traffic Authority for the purpose of: 'avoiding or reducing, the likelihood of, danger connected with terrorism’; or 'preventing or reducing damage connected with terrorism’.

25.        These orders can only be made on the recommendation of the Chief Officer of Police and are subject to prior statutory consultation. An ATTRO could be put in place on a permanent basis which covers the whole City Centre including the Minster area, but only enacted in response to specific circumstances or elevated threat levels. The contingent nature of the ATTRO means that it would only be utilised as an operational response where the Police believe that this would be a proportionate counter terrorism response to the needs of an event, incident or to intelligence received.

26.        The ATTRO would only be brought into use as an operational tool under the direction of the Police, where the responsible officer has sound reasons on the basis of a security assessment or tactical intelligence of a likelihood of danger or risk of damage due to terrorism. Having a permanent ATTRO would mean that the Police could rely on the order being generally available as an operational tool but on a contingency basis that could be “activated” at any time in accordance with the Schedule to the ATTRO which reflects the statutory requirements for making such an order.


27.        There will be an impact on pavement cafes on the streets that access is permitted.

28.        Access would be facilitated by a staffed presence at the two entry points (Blake Street and Lendal). When officers last spoke to Chester this was the solution they were using to facilitate blue badge access. Bath have a different solution which is route through the secure area protected by further security bollards.









29.        The decision by Executive in November 2021 was the culmination of a series of decisions made by the previous Executive. Therefore, in terms of reviewing the decision it is important to consider all the advice and rationale behind those previous decisions. The key points are summarised below with a link to the detailed reports for a full history.


i.                In February 2018 the Executive considered the first report which alerted the Executive to the risks around terrorism, particularly for those areas of the city with high numbers of people. Areas where people congregate, and predictably crowded places are defined as targets. The report recognised that the existing vehicular access controls were not an absolute control and relied on people being law abiding, the inference being that terrorists were not law abiding. Executive therefore instigated a scheme of engineering measures to give effect to the traffic regulation orders and a review of who could access the pedestrian area. The report recognised the potential impact on blue badge holders and requested engagement with disabled people’s organisations.


ii.               In September 2018 the Executive considered a report which proposed a phased approach to security measures within the city centre pedestrianised zone. The Council having received advice from the Counter Terrorism Unit and the Centre for the Protection for National Infrastructure appointed industry experts to risk assess the streets that posed the greatest risk from a Hostile Vehicle Attack, this was attached as an annexe. The report was accompanied by a letter from the Police urging action as they considered the lack of suitable vehicle mitigation measures in York an unacceptable risk for the city to carry. It identified Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights (also described as The Right to Life) and how it places a positive duty on the state (i.e., public bodies) to protect life. A scheme was proposed to protect the priority one area including Parliament Street, High Ousegate, Spurriergate, Coney Street, Daveygate, Finkle Street, Church Street and Jubbergate. This was identified as a first phase, taking an onion skin approach, with future phases of protection to a much wider area identified as priority/phase 2. The report recognised that some people would be disadvantaged as a consequence of making the city safer by reducing the risk of attack but would seek to mitigate these impacts. The Executive approved an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order adding St Sampson Square to the phase 1/priority 1 area see map at Annexe B. (Public Pack)Agenda Document for Executive, 27/09/2018 17:30 (


iii.             At Executive in August 2019 Executive considered a further report. This updated on the engagement with disabled people and disabled people’s organisations and made the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order permanent removing the access from St Sampson Square. The My City Centre Project was commissioned by Executive.


iv.             In February 2020 Executive approved the anticipated revenue and capital allocations for the Hostile Vehicle Mitigation Measures and authorised a procurement process to progress the phase 1/priority 1 area.


v.              In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the requirement to queue outside shops, the exemption which allowed blue badge holders to park on some pedestrianised streets outside the phase 1/priority area was temporarily removed. In June 2020 the Executive approved a One Year Transport and Place Plan as part of its COVID-19 Recovery and Renewal Strategy. The Executive decided to extend the removal of blue badge access in footstreets as part of the economic recovery to create increased public spaces that can be used by local businesses to adapt their operating models with outdoor seating. In response, some areas for blue badge parking were provided on the outskirts of the pedestrian area and linked to shop mobility and a temporary shuttle service. A temporary extension to footstreet hours later into the evening during COVID-19 was also extended through the recovery phase.


vi.             In November 2020 whilst the pandemic restrictions continued, a decision was taken by Executive to extend the arrangements which excluded blue badge access until September 2021 and also to initiate the process of making these changes permanent. This allowed the Hostile Vehicle Mitigation Measures project to be brought forward in a single stage/phase see map at Annexe B. The Executive commissioned a Strategic Review of City Centre Access and Council Car Parking.


vii.            In June 2021, the Executive Member for Transport approved a number of further changes to add additional blue badge parking bays to the city centre outside the footstreets zone, following engagement with disabled people and disabled people’s organisations. They also approved the formal advertising of the proposed Traffic Regulation Order, to remove the exemptions on vehicles with a Blue Disabled User Badge from permitted access to Blake Street, Castlegate, Church Street, Colliergate, Goodramgate (between Deangate and King’s Square), King’s Square, St Helen’s Square, Lendal.


30.        The Executive considered a number of linked reports in November 2021; My City Centre Strategic Vision - Adoption of Vision and Next Steps, Strategic Reviews of City Centre Access and Council Car Parking and finally the report on Consideration of Changes to the City Centre Traffic Regulation Order.



31.        These documents and annexes can be found in full here:


Rather than repeat all the information, here the key points are summarised below:

My City Centre Strategic Vision – Adoption of Vision and Next Steps.

Executive adopted the My City Centre Strategic Vision as a guide to investment in the city centre, to inform policy decision and as a material consideration in planning. The report outlined how the My City Centre project has been shaped through extensive public and stakeholder consultation. Eight individual themes emerged.

i.                Family Friendly City Centre - putting families at the heart of a reimagined city centre.

ii.               Events Experiences & Investment in Public Spaces - focus new investment on improving existing city spaces and improving the market offers in the city.

iii.             An Attractive City Offer at All Times – creating an early evening economy and encourage new home workers to visit the city after work and build on the popularity of outdoor café culture that has developed during the pandemic and post restrictions.

iv.             Making Tourism Work for York - Acknowledging the huge benefits that tourism brings in supporting our economy and sustaining our city centre, harness the positive benefits for our residents and communities and reduce, offset and mitigate any negative impacts.

v.              Embracing Our Riversides – making the rivers part of everyday life in the city, opening up new access routes and riverside environments and exploring their use as transport corridors, whilst also focusing on river safety.

vi.             City Centre Community which is Welcoming for All - create new city living and ensure the facilities and services that our city centre communities need to thrive exist.

vii.            Thriving Businesses and No Empty Buildings - support businesses in the centre, allow them to grow and adapt, whilst also promoting more temporary uses and making better use of vacant buildings.

viii.          Celebrating Heritage and Making Modern History - balancing the heritage environment with the needs of a successful 21st century city that supports the modern lifestyles of our communities.

Strategic Review of City Centre Access.

Executive approved several separate documents and action plans.

i.                Approved the Strategic Review of City Centre Access and an Action Plan to improve access, including the creation of an Access Officer post, improving toilet facilities, further blue badge parking, investment in dial a ride and shopmobility. This has since been reviewed and updates on progress provided to several scrutiny committees.

ii.               Approved the Strategic Review of Council Car Parking which established the criteria by which Car Parks should be evaluated and scored and produced an associated Action Plan which covered a range of issues such as improving the management information available about usage, working with disabled people and disabled people’s organisations to identify what makes a good car park and diversifying the park and ride sites. Most of which is either delivered or in progress.

Consideration of Changes to the City Centre Traffic Regulation Order.

In the context of the My City Centre Vision previously approved on the agenda and the approved action plans as part of the Strategic Review of City Centre Access to further improve access to the city centre, Executive:

i.                Considered the responses to the statutory consultation on the removal of blue badge exemptions permitting access to footstreets during pedestrianised hours.

ii.               Considered the impact of the proposals on blue badge holders and the disabled community, as identified through the statutory consultation and the wider engagement work the council has undertaken. Some of this community made clear that removal of the exemption will remove their ability to access the footstreets which was set out and duly considered within the Equalities Impact Assessment

iii.             Executive made the decision to remove the exemption which allowed vehicles displaying a blue badge to access Blake Street, Church Street, Colliergate, Goodramgate between Deangate and Church Street, King’s Square, Lendal, St Andrewgate between its junction with King’s Square and a point 50 metres northeast and St Helen’s Square during the pedestrian hours.

iv.             Executive made the decision to not proceed with a permanent change to remove blue badge access to Castlegate at this stage.

v.              Executive also approved the implementation of the additional blue badge parking that formed part of the statutory consultation, with the exception of the two bays on St Andrewgate nearest to its junction with Bartle Garth (recognising the consultation relating to St Andrewgate).

vi.             Executive also decided to commence a statutory consultation on a permanent change to footstreet hours to be 10:30 am to 7:00pm. To give effect to the My City Centre Vision which has an aspiration for long term footstreet hours that run until 7pm.


32.        Based upon those decisions the bollards that will secure the city centre from a hostile vehicle attack have now begun to be installed. The Council have ordered the bespoke equipment and is in contract with an installer. Where these have been installed it will remove the requirement for most temporary measures this Christmas.


33.        In July 2022 Executive decided that they would postpone any decision to undertake the statutory traffic regulation order consultation on a permanent change in footstreet hours to 7:00 pm until new pavement café guidance could be developed.



34.        In November 2022, Executive considered a report on the deregulated approach to Pavement Café Licenses


35.        Pavement cafes were initially a response to COVID-19 under emergency government legislation as part of immediate economic support and the “Eat out to help out” scheme. Government has since announced that a deregulated approach would become permanent change. As the City had returned to more normal post COVID-19, the impact that emergency pavement cafes had on specific access issues became more apparent. The report recognised that pavement cafes are here to stay in some form in the future but are no longer part of an emergency response. Therefore, new guidance and conditions around when and where cafes are acceptable was developed with an external access consultant with the input of disabled residents.


36.        Recognising the impact that current temporary arrangements have had on residents and visitors, particularly on people with health conditions or impairments, Executive decided that café licences issued under the fast-track approach would only be allowed on footways if 1.5m width remains for people to get past (with the exception of pedestrianised streets with level access between the footway and the carriageway).

37.        This had a significant impact in the city centre where many of the pedestrianised streets do not have room for a pavement café, emergency access and a clear footway of 1.5 metres so the number of pavement cafes reduced. The government continue to have deregulated approach to pavement cafes with no requirement for planning.

38.        Should the blue badge holders be permitted access, there will be a further impact on pavement cafes. It is estimated that 19 businesses who currently have pavement café licences would need to have their café licence withdrawn as the space will be needed to accommodate blue badge parking as well as pedestrian and vehicular access in these areas. In some locations it may be possible to keep some licences but only where blue badge parking isn’t possible as the objective is to allow blue badge parking in the pedestrian area.


Consultation Analysis


39.        To inform this decision Executive requested an initial consultation on the principles of permitting blue badge access within the Hostile Vehicle Mitigation measures. The principles are as follows:


i.                Return to previous accessThis principle aims, subject to full consultation, to revert to the blue badge accessibility measures that were in place before the emergency COVID-19 measures and the Council’s decision of November 2021 to make them permanent.


ii.               City centre events – Some events, as prior to the November 2021 decision, may require blue badge access to be suspended at times (for example during the Christmas Markets).

iii.             Recognising Security RisksIn light of any security risk intelligence, the Police will have the power to lock down all access to the City Centre under an Anti-Terrorism Traffic Regulation Order, a counter-terrorism measure under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

iv.             Finding solutions – the Council Executive agrees to restore blue badge access through the new hostile vehicle barriers, then the council will work with blue badge holders on the detailed ways to achieve this

v.              Longer term improvements – The Council is committed to considering and implementing longer-term improvements to accessibility in the city, taking into consideration the needs and opinions of the community on an ongoing basis, including in the development of its Transport Strategy


40.        The consultation closed after this report was written. But at the time of writing 3032 people had engaged with the questionnaire with 2787 completed questionnaires of which 500 were paper.


41.        The executive report will need to consider not just the levels of support but the individual 1180 comments.

42.        There is support for all the principles although the support is weakest for the city centre events principle.


43.        Once Executive make a decision there will need to be further engagement with blue badge holders to understand the impact of the decision and how that decision can best be implemented and if blue badge access is reinstated whether there are changes needed to those pedestrianised streets to facilitate access.


Risks and Mitigations


44.        When Executive made the decision in November 2021, they weighed up the security advice with the impact on blue badge holders. It was, and remains, a difficult decision.

45.        The Executive are being briefed in private by Counter Terrorism Policing in advance of any decision.


46.        By allowing the blue badge holders into the secure area the risk of harm both accidental and intentional is heightened by allowing access to vehicles into the area (e.g., Nottingham circumstances not terrorist related but still caused fatalities) and increases the risk of tailgating into a secure zone. This is not because blue badge holders are terrorists but they themselves and their vehicles become vulnerable to being exploited in a terrorist attack; hijack etc.

47.        However, the risk is something that the security services can only advise on, the judgement call is for the Council to determine where its appetite for risk lies against the impacts of such restrictions.

48.        The previous Executive favoured fulfilling the full security advice. By excluding all blue badges Executive were made aware that the impact on some disabled people would be so extreme that they would have difficulty in accessing or could not access the footstreets.

49.        Should blue badge holders be permitted access, there will be a further impact on pavement cafes. It is estimated that 19 businesses who currently have pavement café licences would need to have their café licence withdrawn as the space will be needed to accommodate blue badge parking as well as pedestrian and vehicular access in these areas.




50.        When considering the circumstances as they exist today Executive need to accept that in order to permit blue badge access it may not be possible to find a way to deliver the full Counter Terrorism Policing Advice.


51.        When considering the options, Executive are required by law to consider if the options to restore blue badge access are reasonable and proportionate, having fully considered the Equalities Impact Assessment.


52.        Executive therefore need to weigh up a number of issues: -


i.                Consider the advice from counter terrorism policing and the right to life and duty to protect life.

ii.               Consider the equalities and human rights benefits to blue badge holders of restoring access.

iii.             Consider any extra equalities and human rights benefits by heeding the counter terrorism policing advice.

iv.             Consider the proposed mitigation of blue badge access being restricted during the busies events and the introducing an Anti-Terrorism Traffic Regulation Order for the events and circumstances of highest risk.

v.              Consider the above in the context of the new Council Plan

vi.             Consider changes to the uses of pedestrianised streets since the previous decision to exclude blue badge holders was made (based upon subsequent Executive Decisions regarding Pavement Cafes and Footstreet hours) and therefore reconsider the risk profile.

vii.            Consider the impact on businesses who will be impacted and may have their pavement café licence removed or reduced.








Contact Details





James Gilchrist

Director of Environment, Transport and Planning, Place

01904 552547


Report Approved







Wards Affected: List wards or tick box to indicate all





For further information please contact the author of the report


Background papers


Executive - February 2018 - City Transport Access Measures


Executive - September 2018 – City Centre Access and Priority 1 Proposals

(Public Pack)Agenda Document for Executive, 27/09/2018 17:30 (


Executive - August 2019 - My City Centre Project


Executive - August 2019 - City Centre Access Experimental Traffic Order Conclusion and Phase 1 Proposals





Executive - February 2020 - City Centre Access – Phase 1 Proposals (Update)


Executive – June 2020 - City of York Council Recovery and Renewal Strategy


Executive - November 2020 - City of York Council Recovery and Renewal Strategy - November Update


Executive - November 2020 - The Future of the Extended City Centre Footstreets



Executive Member for Transport – June 2022 - Footstreets Traffic Regulation Order Proposals


Executive - November 2021 - My City Centre Strategic Vision - Adoption of Vision and Next Steps


Executive - November 2021 - Strategic Reviews of City Centre Access and Council Car Parking


Executive - November 2021 - Consideration of Changes to the City Centre Traffic Regulation Order.


Executive - July 2022 - City Centre Access Action Plan Update


Executive - November 2022 - Pavement Café Licence Update


Terrorism (Protection of Premises) – Draft Bill




Annexe A: Draft Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA)

Annexe B: Map showing the original priority 1 area and the expanded protected area as a single phase.