CROYDON COMMENTARY: Former Labour councillor ADRIAN DENNIS, pictured left, accuses the current Town Hall administration of failing to fulfil its legal responsibilities over the closure to traffic of a short stretch of the High Street
While there were very good safety reasons for making the North End shopping area totally pedestrianised – as many may have forgotten that our experience was that buses and partial pedestrianisation definitely did not mix – this is not the case with the closure of Croydon High Street, which was closed to traffic in October between Park Street and Katharine Street.
Not only did Croydon Council fail to consult properly affected businesses and Transport for London, the bus operator, they did not carry out their statutory duty to do an Equality Impact Assessment (under the Equality Act 2010). Had they done so, they will have realised that the closure plans discriminate against the elderly and disabled, yet again.
The only safety problem needing to be addressed was the dangers of crossing the western junction of Park Street. This plan does not deal with that, as traffic will still turn into Park Street but from a different direction.
So the road closure fails to address the only legitimate safety issue, while it diverts buses and taxis away from the centre of Croydon, making it less accessible to those who rely on them. This has been pointed out to the council by us in the Croydon Disability Forum (CDF) who objected to the measures. However, we learned about the proposals only after they were implemented, due to the council’s failure to conduct adequate consultation.
This is a further attack on the elderly and people with disabilities, to prevent us having access to the town centre.
It comes after the disabled car park was closed (although widely abused by cheats illegally using other people’s Blue Badges) and then introducing cycling though the pedestrianised area.
The fact that all the disability organisations in Croydon, including CDF and the council’s own Mobility Forum objected to the closure due to the dangers to disabled people (especially the blind or deaf) should have raised concerns with the council. But the council decided to ignore these objections, presumably to please their perceived voters.
A recent survey of our disabled members revealed that they had all stopped going into Croydon town centre because they consider it to be now too dangerous or too inaccessible, or both.
It seems that everyone from the council to our local banks (by closing branches we can get to) are turning their backs on the elderly and disabled. Maybe they should wake up to the fact that the elderly and the disabled are two of the largest voting groups anywhere.
All political parties ignore that fact, at their peril.
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