Caroline Pidgeon – Liberal Democrat Candidate for Mayor of London

I strongly believe that London should be a far more accessible and equal place for disabled people.

Caroline Pidgeon
Caroline Pidgeon

I believe my actions as a London Assembly Member since 2008 demonstrate my firm commitment to this.
In the last eight years I have worked alongside many disability organisations and some of the issues I have been involved with include:

  • Working alongside Guide Dogs for the Blind to end the outdated and discriminatory policy of guide dogs not being permitted on the London Underground’s moving escalators.
    I have also pressed TfL to deliver more wide aisle gates at London Underground stations.

www.standard.co.uk/news/guide-dogs-to-be-allowed-on-tube-escalators-6449521.html
www.london24.com/news/transport/guide_dogs_allowed_on_escalators_at_tube_and_train_stations_1_1080551

  • Revealing back in 2009 that one in five pedestrian crossings at junctions in London were failing to give people enough time to safely cross the road, and were in breach of a
    minimum standard set by the Department for Transport. Having exposed this failing by TfL I am pleased to report that finally this minimum basic standard has now been met.
    A report on this issue from the BBC can be seen here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8048961.stm

  • Revealing the significant problem of many London Underground stations having lifts that are suddenly withdrawn from service due to a lack of trained staff at the station.
    This has especially been a problem at stations such as Wood Lane, Southfields, Oakwood, Hendon Central, West Brompton, and Golders Green.

Having repeatedly raised this issue over the last two years I have been given assurances that this problem should start to diminish this year. I hope these reports are useful:

www.transportforall.org.uk/news/sharp-upsurge-in-tube-lift-closures-due-to-shortages-of-trained-staff

www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/disabled-and-parents-with-buggies-stranded-as-tube-lift-closures-soar-10299112.html

  • Working with RNIB to ensure South West Trains were forced to drop their ridiculous proposal to end audible announcements at Waterloo Station:

www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/the-blind-will-lose-out-if-waterloo-ditches-tannoy-9729025.html

  • In 2011 I revealed the extent of how many pedestrian crossings in London were still not meeting a 1995 Department of Transport standard to either provide an
    audible sound and/or rotating cone to assist blind and visually impaired people.
    At the time there were 347 crossings in London not meeting this standard. I think it is appalling that the current Mayor and TfL have been so slow in addressing this basic minimum standard.
    Even now the long standing promise to ensure all pedestrian crossings meet this standard by March 2016 will not be completely met as can be seen in this recent reply from Boris Johnson.
  • Working with Transport for All and other disability organisations to secure an absolute commitment that every station on Crossrail will have full step free access.
  • I have personally become a dementia friend and I persuaded the Greater London Authority to ensure training is provided to GLA staff to be more aware of this issue.

www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/dementia-in-london

  • I have kept a close interest in the record of Dial-a-Ride. I am also very proud of other work undertaken by the London Assembly Transport Committee
    (which I have co-chaired since 2008) including its current investigation into accessibility of transport for people with a sensory impairment.

www.transportforall.org.uk/news/investigation-into-travelling-in-london-with-a-sensory-impairment

Turning to my policy priorities:
Transport: it is vital that continued progress is made to deliver more step free stations and indeed it is highly regrettable that progress on this issue
was held up by Boris Johnson cancelling so many step free schemes soon after he was elected, even at stations where schemes had already commenced.

I would also like to see mobile ramps made available at more London Underground stations, so as to deliver truly step free access from street level to the carriage.
I would also like to see TfL adopt a policy of totally eradicating any lift closures due to a lack of trained staff. There can be no excuses for reducing access at
Tube stations on such grounds.
I strongly support more commuter train franchises being controlled by TfL and this would help ensure that the higher standards of access provided by London Overground are extended to many more train lines.
I fully recognise the important role played by Dial-a-Ride and would ensure this service is maintained.
Improvements in the service must also be made. At present there are worrying variations in the level of service provision in different boroughs, which must be addressed.

I believe it is vital that London has a flourishing black taxi industry. One of its many attributes is that every vehicle is fully wheelchair accessible and indeed has other important access features such as handrails.
While London’s bus fleet is fully wheelchair accessible I remain concerned about repeated complaints about ramps not operating. Stronger enforcement of TfL’s contracts with the bus companies is necessary.
Complaints about bus drivers’ turning off audible announcements on some buses is also an issue that must be firmly addressed.
There are for example information points at some stations which still do not have induction loops which is unacceptable.

I very much welcome TfL’s trial using audio instructions to assist visually impaired people to move around stations, and would like to see such technology rolled out across all stations as quickly as possible.

I am of course fully committed to maintaining the Freedom Pass.
Housing: I am firmly committed to at least maintaining the present accessible housing policies currently laid out in the London Plan of ensuring all new build developments meet minimum Lifetime Homes standards, and with a minimum 10% of developments being wheelchair accessible.
More information on my views on accessible housing can be seen here.
Employment: ensuring London has a far more accessible transport system is obviously key to improving employment opportunities for many disabled people.  I would also actively encourage more London employers to adopt bolder policies relating to flexible working, including greater use of home working.
Take-up of benefits: the Mayor of London has huge opportunities to help publicise campaigns. I would give special attention to ensuring disabled people and their carers are made more aware of the benefits they are entitled to which often go unclaimed.

I hope this sets out my views on a number of key issues.  Most importantly I hope my record of action on disability issues demonstrates my firm commitment to disabled people in London.

With very best wishes,
Caroline Pidgeon
Liberal Democrat Candidate for Mayor of London