Chris was honoured to be featured in one of the first video portraits of dog owners and their pets produced by Pet Fi, a new website for pet owners aiming to provide a gateway to beautiful storytelling and exceptional experiences for the discerning pet owner. Learn more about how Chris and Lottie work together, why having a guide dog is “the difference between crawling and flying” and what Lottie gets up to at the weekends!
The Disability Discrimination Act was a significant achievement in advancing the rights of disabled people. It focused on driving social change towards the full inclusion of disabled people at every level of society. However, twenty years on, there are still issues impacting on the enforcement of disability equality rights. Chris chairs the Disability Committee at the Equality and Human Rights Commission and their recent report “Is Britain Fairer?” clearly shows that disabled people in Britain still face daily challenges. Many are still ‘locked out’ of full participation in society due to barriers remaining in the provision of housing, transport, leisure facilities, education and workplaces. Chris wants to use this anniversary as an opportunity to highlight that using the Equality Act, we must all work together to continue to highlight, address and remove those remaining barriers disabled people face to full and fair inclusion.
Is Britain Fairer? EHRC
Hague’s great achievement, Conservative Home
Chris answers with an emphatic NO! The Daily Politics looked at shared space on the day of a debate Chris had tabled in the House of Lords to question the government over the controversial schemes he has been campaigning against. Shared space is a design approach which minimizes demarcations between vehicle traffic and pedestrians often removing features such as curbs, road surface markings, traffic signs, controlled crossings and regulations. Increasingly popular with local authorities Chris complains that it is a social experiment that risks public safety and scares people away from their own high streets. With increasing numbers of local authorities now facing legal action and/or making expensive U-turns Chris asked the government if Department for Transport guidance (LTN 1/11 Shared Space) is “fit for purpose”. He was joined in the debate by Lord Low, Baroness Thomas, Baroness Royall, Lord Tope, Lord Rosser and Lord Ahmed. Baroness Kramer dealt with this issue when she was Minister for Transport in the last government and it was great hearing that she very much supports the specific recommendations made in the Holmes Report.
Guide Dogs support Lord Holmes, Politics Home
Chris is delighted to be one of the four new expert advisers appointed by the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to help the Civil Service become more representative of modern Britain.
The advisers will work to challenge policies and provide advice to Ministers and the leadership of the Civil Service as they continue to improve the numbers of people in the workforce from under-represented groups. They are respected leaders and campaigners from the worlds of business and sport, each with a long and unique track record in creating fairer, more representative workplaces.
Chris feels strongly that the civil service has a tremendous opportunity to lead in this area and act as a beacon to others. Improving opportunities and career pathways for everyone will not only transform the civil service it will have a profound impact throughout the UK.
Chris has written a blog on this idea that a truly inclusive Civil Service, because of the range and nature of the service, would have a profound impact on this country.
As well as this new adviser role Chris is also one of the judges at this years Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Awards due to be announced at a ceremony on 13th October.
On Friday 1st July I published detailed research into so called “shared space”. This is the architectural conceit, the planning folly, which proposes that the removal of kerbs, road markings, controlled crossings such as zebras and pelicans and so on leads to a better experience for all users of our streets. To be clear this means no road or pavement, no safe space, buses and blind people, toddlers and trucks sharing the same space. Unsurprisingly, the research findings do not support a sunny view of shared space.
Sixty-three per cent of respondents reported a negative experience of shared space. Even more worryingly, thirty-five per cent said they actively avoided shared space, that’s over a third of people planned out of their local community, their local shops, their local support services. This type of totalitarian planning would make even an old style Soviet feel some shame. The research also indicated a significant under reporting of accidents in these shared spaces.
The findings are stark, the solution clear, an immediate moratorium on all shared space schemes until thorough impact assessments can be conducted. This must be combined with a central record of accident data including “courtesy crossings”, which must be defined and monitored. There is also a need for updated Department for Transport guidance to enable local authorities to fully understand their obligations, not least in relation to the Equality Act.
Has so called “shared space” achieved an inclusive experience for all? No, it most certainly has not. Has it opened up our high streets, increased safety and usability? Again, no it has not. Shared space is not a safe place nor a pleasant place, it has turned high streets into traffic free for alls, it has caused confusion, chaos and catastrophe.
In the words of survey respondents, shared space is:
“Lethally dangerous” (Pedestrian)
“Absolute nightmare that I avoid if I can.” (Driver)
“Shared space is a false promise with poor delivery” (Cyclist)
Chaos, Confusion and Catastrophe, Politics Home
Shared space schemes labelled dangerous in Lords report, Architects Journal
New Report calls for a moratorium on shared space crossings, Transport for All
“Dangerous and Costly” shared spaces should be scrapped, Lord Holmes claims, Gloucester Citizen
Ex-Paralympian in call to end shared space crossings, Swindon Advertiser
Time to stop sharing?, Lord of the Blogs
Blurred Lines #Shared Spaces, Unity Law Report
End of the road for white lines on highway, The Times
Please tweet using #stopsharedspace,
Chris was delighted to give a TED talk at a TEDx Event organised along the theme of Momentum; Moving Forward, Gaining Speed and Building Traction. Chris’s talk was titled ‘Seeing isn’t Believing’ as he explained how a working class kid from the Midlands got from an underperforming comprehensive school to Cambridge University, from a rundown 25 yard swimming pool to the gold medal podium at 4 Paralympic Games, from a terraced house to the House of Lords. For Chris this path was not guided by the light afforded by sight, that sight having departed, without notice, overnight. Vision instead of sight and a clear path firmly built on the bedrock of self belief.
Chris was honoured to be installed as Deputy Chancellor of BPP University. He is a former law student of the university and was at London’s prestigious Guildhall venue on 13th May 2016 to receive the honour during the university’s graduation ceremony. Speaking on the power of higher education, Chris said he was “honoured” to be the university’s new figurehead and “delighted to play my small part in the on-going success at BPP as the University goes from strength to strength, producing excellent graduates across the professions who will go on to make such a positive contribution to our country.” Chris gained a post graduate diploma in law (PGDL) whilst at BPP University’s Law School and in 2002 he completed the Legal Practice Course.