London Deaf and Disabled people organise and call for improved action from Mayor
A meeting of over 60 Deaf and Disabled Londoners met onTuesday 8 December, to call on London Mayor Boris Johnson to make radical improvements to his proposed London Plan and Transport Strategy.
Inclusion London, the newly formed London-wide Community Interest Company working for Deaf and Disabled people and their organisations, set up the City Hall meeting to collect views on what Deaf and Disabled Londoners thought of vital issues including housing, transport, the lifetime neighbourhoods.
The meeting was a first outing for Inclusion London and the overwhelming and positive response reflected the support for a London-wide organisation championing equality for Deaf and Disabled people in the capital. Those present heard from a range of speakers from: Inclusion London; Radar; Transport for All; London Plan team and Councillor Jenny Jones, London Assembly Member and Chair of its Planning and Housing Committee.
After examining the plans in workshops, conference participants called for:
• the Social Model of Disability to be explicitly and centrally present in all Mayoral strategies and reinstated where it belongs in the equality strategy, in particular.
• The Mayor to recognise and act on the basis of the principle ‘nothing about us, without us’.
• Significant amendments to the Transport Strategy including, reinstating the original timetable of plans for proposed step free access at tube stations and the plans that would make transport accessible and affordable. Participants considered the transport strategy was not good enough for disabled people.
• The Mayor to increase his targets for affordable homes and social housing, – reducing the quota of affordable housing directly penalizes deaf and disabled people who are less likely to be employed and more likely to be living below the poverty line.
• Implementation of the Draft Replacement London Plan’s proposal for Lifetime Homes and Lifetime Neighbourhoods, including clear targets on boroughs, much better city-wide coordination, action against bad planning practice, and involvement of disabled people.
Alongside these demands there were calls for much better enforcement – where there were good policies in the London Plan, speakers pointed out that they were all too often ignored at local borough level: ‘if boroughs don’t’ agree the Mayor must enforce the standard’. There were calls for access groups at local level to be funded so as to be able to monitor action on the ground.
“Inclusion London’s role is to be a voice for Deaf and Disabled people to those who run London. Deaf and Disabled people must understand each other’s concerns and work together to fight for a truly inclusive city.” Said Kirsten Hearn, chair of Inclusion London.
Councillor Jenny Jones (AM) welcomed the very positive and diverse discussion and said “Today’s meeting of London’s Deaf and disabled people has been long awaited – the planning committee will use the comments from today and in particular wants to see the Social Model of Disability reasserted explicitly at the heart of these Mayoral Strategies”
Inclusion London were delighted at the response and encouraged by the eagerness of Deaf and Disabled people to debate, campaign and demand equality.
As well as urging all present to make their views heard directly in these consultations, Inclusion London will be incorporating today’s responses into its comments to the Mayor’s strategies and is aiming for the needs of Deaf and Disabled people to be much higher up the political agenda in London.
Participants committed to working together to ensure Deaf and Disabled peoples interests are championed in the challenging times ahead and welcomed the advent of Inclusion London as a much needed voice.
Who are Inclusion London?
Inclusion London is the new London-wide organisation run by Deaf and disabled people which helps London’s Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) to access the support they need to be successful; works to remove barriers so DDPOs can get the advice, support, training and resources they need from mainstream providers; provides information and support to help DDPOs to participate in consultations and; supports DDPOs to make sure Deaf and disabled people are involved and have influence on public policy and decisions.
What is the London Plan?
The draft replacement London plan is out for public consultation until 12 January 2010. The London Plan, Transport Strategy and Economic Development Strategy can be found at: http://www.london.gov.uk/shaping-london/london-plan/ The consultation will be followed by an ‘examination in public’. A panel will decide who will be invited to take part in ‘hearings’ and these are likely to take place in the summer or autumn of 2010. After this the panel will draw up proposals for changes in the draft plan. The Mayor is then required to consider these – and can accept or reject them.