Article in Today’s Sunday Telegraph

LTN disability campaigners told to stop ‘mansplaining’

‘Is it really a benefit for society that vulnerable and disabled people feel unable to leave their homes?’

A COUNCIL chief behind a controversial low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) has claimed disability campaigners who asked for blue badge holders to be exempt were “mansplaining”.

The row erupted over a key junction in Dulwich Village, an upmarket suburb of south London, which was closed with planters to become an LTN during the first Covid lockdown.

Ever since, disabled motorists with blue badges have been blocked, as councillors prioritise cyclists and pedestrians to “create a greener environment for all”. Two residents opposed to the “ideological” and “discriminatory” scheme handed a petition from 600 people to Southwark council last month calling for an exemption.

Clive Rates, a local behind the petition, told councillors “to come to Dulwich and talk to people” who “feel trapped in their homes”, thanks to gridlock on the boundary roads to which cars have been displaced, with disabled schoolchildren forced to take detours.

He asked: “Is it really a benefit for society that vulnerable and disabled people feel unable to leave their homes?” This prompted a visibly angry Cllr Catherine Rose, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for streets and clean air, who oversees LTNs, to shout: “Have you finished mansplaining the issues to me? That’s what you’ve been doing for the last five or 10 minutes.

“Thank you very much, I’ve spoken to thousands of people.”

At the meeting, on Dec 6, Mr Rates was joined by the petition co-organiser Tristan Honeyborne, who warned Cllr Rose: “Do not let ideology get in the way of common sense and compassion.”

They pointed out that the council’s equalities impact assessment had assumed that blue badge holders would be allowed access, and that the council’s consultation for a junction redesign in August 2021 saw 57 per cent wish to scrap it and just 15 per cent support it.

At the outset of the meeting, Cllr Kieron Williams, the Labour council leader, had accused Mr Rates and Mr Honeyborne of having a “broader agenda”.

Mr Rates said: “Cllr Rose’s attack on me is consistent with how local residents, TFL officers and others questioning the Dulwich LTN have been treated.

“Both she and council leader Williams refused to engage with [our] petition and the discrimination it highlighted, and have shown contempt for the 600 mostly local residents who signed it and the vulnerable people we were trying to help.”

Cllr Rose said in a statement that some separate LTNs in Dulwich do allow blue badge holders, but a new equalities impact assessment would “fully consider” their needs.

Comments

  1. The Utube recording of the meeting between Clive Rates and Tristan Honeyborne with Southwark Council clearly shows that they were disrespectfully treated and the points they made were not addressed. The residents of Dulwich Village have never had their concerns about the LTN listened to. The Council have collected millions of pounds through drivers going through the camera ‘gates’ so it would appear money rules all. The residents don’t matter.

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