Over the last few weeks an vital theme emerged from Parliament through the Conservative MP from Daventry who is one of the Ministers of State for the Department for Transport. Chris Heaton-Harris is part of a team who work under the leadership of Grant Shapps. Given the arrogant and incompetent approach that Grant Shapps provides, one could easily treat the whole department as lacking credibility. Indeed, the claim from Shapps in the last few days that funding political parties does not benefit the funders was a classic example of how dishonest he is. However the theme that Chris Heaton-Harris was speaking about during the final six weeks of Parliament has reached out to businesses and a range of charities in terms of how to assist many people in our nation. Some of these people are recognised due to the condition that they live in and many more are less evident. However all of them need assistance from our nation in terms of how it delivers its transportation arrangements. One the elements that Chris raised in some of his comments over the six week period came under the same title as a charity that is based in Derbyshire. However there are many other charities that cover similar focus to Access for All including Possability People that is based here in Brighton and Hove. I have never had any dealings with Access for All but it is a title that the Department has chosen to provide funding to improve accessibility at rail stations for what the Department sadly states as being “for less able passengers”. As it happens the statements from Chris Heaton-Harris were not restricted to rail stations. His final comment before Parliament closed down came in response to a written question from a Liberal Democratic MP called Daisy Cooper about bus provision. His response began with these first few words
The Government wants disabled people to travel easily, confidently and at no additional cost, just like everyone else
and he went on to refer to a Bus Back Better strategy. Clearly Bus Back Better does not refer to a charity but equally the Access for All is not limited to one charity. These two headlines are part of the wider theme that has emerged out into the commercial setting since Parliament has closed down. One of the sources was the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) which I happen to be a member of. I work for a Company that is providing Audio Visual installation and the IET publication came out a week last Wednesday under that heading. The IET publication explains that “Public transport across the UK will be adapted to make it more accessible for disabled passengers” and indeed back at the early stage of July Mr Heaton-Harris stated
By 2030, we want disabled people to have the same access to transport as anyone else, and if physical infrastructure remains a barrier—or a wall—then assistance must play a role in guarantee-Ings those rights.
There is clearly a need for businesses and services to respond to charities over the next few years to ensure that the call for an access to transport is delivered, hopefully well before 2030. One of the ways for this to take place would be for local MPs and indeed Councils to try to link together their residents to the transport agencies and bring in businesses to help dramatically improve such provision. The involvement of charities such as Possability People is clearly a vital element to assist this connection. Another reference from IET was “Public transport across the UK will be adapted to make it more accessible for disabled passengers, including audio and visual announcements on busses and tactile paving on train station platforms.” Clearly this is something that can be achieved providing the right sort of provision is introduced into our local systems and settings. One of the challenges that needs to be achieved and perhaps this Summer is an ideal time for it to take place is to ensure that our local MPs are all aware of the proposals from the Government and can respond when Parliament re-opens. Some of our local MPs have spoken about disabled aspects relatively recently. We need to applaud them and Caroline Lucas from Brighton Pavilion is clearly the person who is the most consistent in her speeches. All of the others have been less regular but Peter Kyle from Hove, Henry Smith from Crawley, Nusrat Ghani from Wealden and Huw Merriman from Bexhill and Battle have all been raising the theme recently. Sadly the others have not appeared to do so and so perhaps we can call out for them to reach out to their constituents with a particularly strong focus on disabled residents so that in September we can see a major step forward.