The Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller MP, has written to Transport Minister Paul Maynard expressing concerns about the draft Accessibility Action Plan, which is currently out for consultation.
The letter urges the Department for Transport to do more to address the recommendations in the Women and Equalities Committee’s report on disability and the built environment in order to improve travel for people with disabilities.
The Chair welcomes a number of the measures set out by the Government, but adds that the Committee is concerned that the current draft, published in August, has not addressed some of its specific findings.
In particular, the letter draws the following areas to the Department’s attention:
The failure to address the Committee’s recommendation that the Plan include action to improve the ability of not only accessible toilets, but also Changing Places toilets in transport infrastructure.
The failure to engage with the Committee’s recommendation on the urgent need to address the exclusion of disabled people from places where ‘shared spaces’ street design is used. The Committee received a significant amount of evidence on this issue and called for a halt to the introduction or expansion of such schemes, pending fit for purpose guidance from the Department.
While the actions on training of bus, coach, train, taxi and private hire vehicle drivers are welcome, they fall short of the recommendations of a House of Lords Committee report that such training be set out in law.
The planned provision of guidance to local authorities on the use of their licensing powers to support accessible transport services falls short of the conclusion of the House of Lords Committee that for this to be effective, the Government would need to make compliance with the Equality Act 2010 a requirement of the licence.
Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller MP, said:
“I welcome the draft plan published by the Department as it sets out positive actions to improve the travel experience for people with disabilities.
“However, it is very disappointing that, on certain points, the findings of our report have not been addressed. We expected the Department to use this action plan to address the recommendations we made directly to it, but it has not done so.
“Disabled people will not be pleased to hear that our recommendations, particularly on Changing Places toilets, shared spaces schemes, training and local authority guidance all appear to have been ignored.
“I have urged the Minister to explain how the Government plans to address our recommendations and concerns in its Accessibility Action Plan.”
The letter to Paul Maynard MP is published on the Committee’s website. It also includes an Annex featuring the key conclusions and recommendations of the Committee’s disability and the built environment report.