Mayor aims for London to be 'most disabled friendly in world' by 2012
Europe, May 24 2011
THE Deputy Mayor of London has promised a “true legacy” of accessibility for disabled people in the capital after next year’s Olympic Games.
Richard Barnes pledged to “make sure London is inclusive and embracing to all communities” as he, along with Mayor of London Boris Johnson, opened a new play area at a Muswell Hill school for children with autism.
He said: “We are working to ensure the work we put in now lasts for many, many years.
“If part of that is changing attitudes, bringing together people, how to deal with one another, living with disability and mobility impairment, old and young – then we will truly begin to transform London and make it the best capital city in the world.”
Mr Johnson and Mr Barnes met staff and children at the Pears National Centre for Autism Education as they unveiled a multi-use sports and games area part-funded by a £21,000 grant from City Hall.
Mr Barnes said: “This is living and breathing example of how you can actually support participation out in the community.
“What this school does here is not just with its own pupils but with mainstream pupils, integrating them together which is just fantastic.”
The centre, which opened in Woodside Avenue in 2005, is home to the Tree House School as well as charity Ambitious About Autism.
Today’s visit coincided with the launch of the latest annual report on equality and diversity, a drive which is spearheaded by Mr Barnes.
Mr Johnson said his goal is for transport across the capital to have disabled access one way or another by the time of next year’s Olympic and Paralympic games.
He said: “When the world comes to London in 2012, we want to see the most disabled friendly environment in the world.”
He conceded some outer London tube stations would struggle to be fully accessible, but measures would be taken to overcome the problems.
Mr Barnes said taxis and buses are now accessible to disabled people, but said getting the Tube to the same standard is “the greatest challenge of the lot” because of the age of the network and varying designs of stations.