Gary Busuttil on How Disability Rights Affect Us All

Councillor says more work needs to be done on public transport access

Cllr Gary Busuttil believes rail infrastructure needs to be upgraded

It has been almost 11 years since the Equality Act 2010 came into force, an act that encompassed many different acts such as the Equal Pay Act 1970, Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976, and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Though over a decade has passed since the legislation was given royal assent, it is obvious that there is much work to do.

Disability is not just about what you can see physically, such as someone who uses a wheelchair, disability is also about what you can’t see, such as dementia or autism. As an example, in the UK there are 1.2 million wheelchair users, but there are 12 million people that are affected by hearing loss. Approximately 70% of disabilities are not visible.

As a transport worker, I regularly have to attend disability awareness training as I have done recently, even after a decade, particularly in relation to transport, I’ve come to realise we are nowhere near good enough when it comes accommodating people with disabilities, of which still face difficulties using public transport today.

Our long standing Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, Caroline Pidgeon, has done much to champion awareness and accessibility on our public transport network for people with disabilities. She has campaigned to get 100% of rail stations to install tactile paving, presided over the reinstating of physical assistance to passengers with disabilities on TfL services, and highlighted the issue of delays to installing step free access at tube stations. Now we have another equally hard-working Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, Hina Bokhari, hopefully more progress can be made on disability awareness and accessibility.

The task is huge, particularly on our rail infrastructure, much of which was built at a time when people with disabilities was not a consideration. We still see many of our stations without lifts and step free access. However, this should not be an excuse, someone living with a disability can and should be able to travel with ease as everyone else. One of my three main passions is to travel, to go and visit places, as I believe it “betters” you as a person, and so I encourage as many people to travel as possible. I hate to think anyone’s reason not to travel was because of their disability.

Next year there will be local elections, which my fellow Southfield Liberal Democrat Councillors and I are seeking re-election, if I am re-elected, I’m not one to be complacent about these things, I will dedicate time in helping Caroline and Hina, push for better awareness and accessibility on our public transport network, so people with disabilities can travel with ease as everyone else.

Cllr Gary Busuttil– Liberal Democrat Councillor for Southfield ward

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June 19, 2021