The Sunday Telegraph

Khan under fire from disabled Londoners after he snubs hustings

- By Charlotte Gill

‘Does a blind or disabled person have to be killed before they do anything?’

‘Politician­s who want our vote need to come and listen to us and talk with us’

SADIQ KHAN has been accused of not listening to disabled voters after shunning a hustings for deaf and disabled Londoners.

Mr Khan’s main opponents in the mayoral election also failed to join the meeting on Tuesday, which was attended by about 150 voters who had hoped to meet the candidates.

The Mayor of London has faced fierce criticism over fears that so-called floating bus stops, where pedestrian­s cross a cycle lane to reach the stop, pose a particular danger to blind pedestrian­s. The Telegraph reported in January on leaked documents that showed Transport for London (TfL) research had found 60 per cent of cyclists do not obey road rules by giving way to pedestrian­s at crossings.

Special arrangemen­ts had been made to make the Westiminst­er hustings accessible, with charities such as Real, Wheels For Wellbeing and the British Deaf Associatio­n in attendance.

Hyacinth Malcolm, a campaigner for the National Federation for the Blind UK (NFBUK), told The Telegraph “our current mayor just isn’t listening”.

“Does a blind or disabled person have to be killed before they do anything? He just doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to understand.” She added: “The buses are the most accessible way for us to travel. We can’t do it any more.”

NFBUK campaigner­s said they have been raising concerns since 2019, and have twice been to Downing Street to escalate concerns, claiming they have been ignored by the mayor and his cycling tsar, Will Norman.

Rachel Blake, who is standing to be a Labour MP in the next General Election, was sent as Mr Khan’s replacemen­t. Susan Hall and Rob Blackie – the Conservati­ve and Liberal Democrat candidates for the mayoral elections, respective­ly – also failed to appear.

The Green Party’s Zoë Garbett was the only candidate to attend. Conservati­ve Andrew Boff, Chair of the London Assembly, sent in place of Ms Hall, said she would “listen and she will listen intently” – despite her not being there.

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London, the charity that organised the hustings, said: “We are deeply disappoint­ed by the failure of the Lib Dem, Labour and Conservati­ve candidates to turn up today.” She added that hustings are “a vital part of that democratic process. It’s a way that politician­s who want our vote need to come and listen to us and actually meet us and talk with us.”

A spokesman for Ms Hall said: “Susan is listening to Londoners and while she unfortunat­ely couldn’t make this specific engagement, she regularly meets with disability groups and will continue to advocate for Londoners with disabiliti­es.”

A London Labour spokesman said: “Sadiq is committed to making our city as fair and accessible as possible so that every Londoner, including Londoners with disabiliti­es, can make the most of all it has to offer. He was unable to attend the hustings due to a scheduling conflict and sent a representa­tive in his place, as did the Tory and Lib Dem candidates.”

Rob Blackie was approached for comment.

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