York: Human Rights City publishes 2021 indicator report

News | Posted on Wednesday 9 March 2022

The annual human rights indicator report has recently been published by the YHRCN.

2021 started in a Covid-19 related lockdown and ended with the City of York Council Executive voting to exclude Blue Badge holders from the centre of the city on the basis of concerns about terrorist threats. Unless strong action is taken the legacy of 2021 is likely to be stark and enhanced inequalities, and the deliberate and permanent exclusion of an already disadvantaged group from the city centre.

Among the findings of the annual human rights indicator report published by the YHRCN are that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased inequalities in relation to the gender pay gap and educational attainment; exacerbated poverty, illustrated by a sharp rise in the number of foodbanks and foodbank users; and highlighted a crisis in social care. While the pandemic may be receding, its legacy will be with us for years to come unless decisive action is taken at local and national level.

In relation to the Blue Badge issue, the YHRCN stands alongside the Reverse the Ban coalition in calling on the Council Executive to reverse the prohibition on Blue Badge access to the city centre, and engage with disability groups to genuinely co-produce a solution that guarantees both security and access. This has become a defining issue for who we are as a city – it is our belief that we are better than the current decision suggests.

A broader concern is the current state of democratic decision-making in the city. Commitments to social justice within the current Council Executive, from the importance attached to labels such as being a Human Rights City to the depth of consultation processes with York residents, are too often experienced as performative and lacking substance. Issues such as Blue Badge access have become unnecessarily politicised, due to the fractured relationship between political parties in the city. 

The YHRCN is a non-party political coalition that seeks to work with all the main political parties. Our goal is to speak truth to power and hold power to account. We will continue to use universal human rights principles and the Human Rights City label to do this, collaborating where we can but critiquing when it is necessary to do so.