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Celebrating campaign success at the pan-London mobility forum

Added: 11 February 2013 | Updated: 14 February 2013

Despite the snow London woke up to on Monday 11th February, disabled and older people came from all corners of the capital to take part in the fourth pan-London mobility forum, the theme for this meeting was Celebrating campaigning success.

The Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Maria Eagle MP, sponsored the event which took place in the Attlee Suite at Portcullis House. Ms Eagle was due to speak at the meeting, but was called upon to launch the Eastleigh by-election and was replaced by Shadow Transport Minister, Yvonne Fovargue MP.

Transport for All Director, Faryal Velmi opened the meeting, followed by Yvonne Fovargue spoke about the importance of accessible transport to disabled people across the country. Having only been the Shadow Transport Minister for just weeks, Ms Fovargue welcomed the opportunity to meet transport activists from many deaf and disabled people’s organisations.

We then invited the first of three speakers, all of who spoke about different campaigning methods. Chris Fry, a solicitor from Unity Law, told the forum about their case against Arriva North. The case against Arriva Ltd began in Teesside Combined Court on Monday 3rd December and is the first case of its kind against a transport company. It could set a precedent for how the equality act is interpreted in future. The case received media attention due to the high level of interest from disability rights groups and transport companies. Arriva operate a ‘First Come First Serve’ policy which Unity Law allege is unlawful and in breach of the Equality Act 2010. They argue that because of their policy, Arriva Ltd believe they are under no obligation to preserve wheelchair spaces for those who need it and, significantly, are not prepared to do more than simply ask non-disabled passengers to move from a wheelchair space if it is required.

We then heard from Terry Murphy, a Bexley resident who campaigned for 17 years to get a gate opened at Crayford Station, making the station step-free. It all began in the nineties, when Mr Murphy’s daughter had to take her disabled daughter to various hospitals on a regular basis. Mr Murphy contacted Southeastern trains to ask for a key to the gate, as it would make the station accessible for his granddaughter. His campaign to re-open the gate lasted for many years and he nearly gave up at times. Terry’s message was very clear – don’t give up your campaign until you have won!

Lastly we heard from Newham resident and Transport for All board member, Mohammed Mohsanali. Mohammed recently took Assembly Member John Biggs on a journey on the Tube and the bus. Mohammed is visually impaired, and a wheelchair user also went on the trip. Mr Biggs got to experience the frustrations Mohammed has to deal with on a daily basis, such as the ibus system not been audible on board the bus, so it is impossible for him to tell if he is approaching his stop. As a direct result of this trip, John Biggs asked Mayor Boris Johnson four separate questions about accessible transport during Mayor’s Question Time. Local newspaper the Newham Recorder also ran a story about the journey. Taking a local politician on a journey can be a very powerful way to highlight transport barriers.

Next on the agenda was Borough Reports. At previous pan-London mobility forums, each representative has spoken about the transport issues in their area, but this can take a long time to get through all the London boroughs. This time, we contacted the mobility forum or a disabled people’s organisation in advance, and prepared a report made up from the feedback of 26 London boroughs. At this point in the meeting, each representative was invited to raise any further issues not already mentioned in the report.

The report can be downloaded here.

For the final part of the meeting, representatives were invited to join one of three discussion groups:

  • Buses – What is the next stop?
  • Our Streets – crossings and clutter
  • Rolling Out the Ramps – making the tube accessible

The bus group discussed finding out which are the best buses for access, conflict with buggy users and making contact with bus unions to name a few. The Our Streets group talked about all the problems that can affect pedestrians and ways to bring these to the attention of a local councillor, TfL or the Police. The Tube session discussed the need for better communications across impairment groups and how to get in touch with TfL to let them know are concerns and offer to take part in training and consultation.

If you would like to hear more about the pan-London mobility forum, or would like to get involved, please email Sarah or call 020 7737 2339