Disability campaigners brand York Christmas Market as 'unsafe' after reports of overcrowding

St Nicholas Market has 70 alpine-like chalets lined along Parliament Street and disabled visitors are saying it is unsafe. Credit: ITV News

A disability campaign group has said people are being shut out of a Christmas market due to overcrowding.

There have been complaints about overcrowding at York Christmas market, with videos and photographs of the numbers of people attending appearing on social media.

Co-founder of York Accessibility Action said St Nicholas Fair is "discrimination against disabled people in York".

Alison Hume, who is a supporter of a child with a complex disability, filmed the crowds on Saturday 3 December. She told ITV Tyne Tees: "Disabled people are shut out of the city centre in York and it's a stark example of the attitude of those in charge.

"The Christmas market is just ill-advised."

  • Video credit: Alison Hume

The group campaigns against the exclusion of disabled people from the city due to a lack of accessibility.

St Nicholas Market has 70 alpine-like chalets lined along Parliament Street and in St Sampson’s Square.

Ms Hume, who is able-bodied, said it took her 20 minutes to get from the top of Parliament Street to the bottom at around midday on Saturday 3 December.

She is calling for an urgent review into the market, which is run by Make it York, as she described as "unsafe for anybody - let alone for disabled people, people with additional needs, or people with pushchairs".

A spokesperson for Make It York said: "Make It York is proud to organise many free events and festivals throughout the year for residents and visitors to enjoy.

"We are committed to ensuring that everyone can participate, with access requirements in place to support with additional needs.

"We understand that St Nicholas Fair can be a busy event at peak times, especially on weekends, therefore we have integrated designated quieter periods where music will be minimal between 10am to 12pm each day."

City of York Council was approached for comment but it directed inquiries to Make it York.

Flick Williams says York Christmas markets are not accessible for people with disabilities. Credit: ITV News

Wheelchair user Flick Williams, who visited the market, said: "You can just look around and see people struggling to get on and off kerbs and through narrow pinch points.

"No wonder people give up and think: 'I'll go somewhere else'."

Ms Williams, who has lived in York for 20 years, said the market is "just incredibly difficult" to navigate and that "the planning is woefully inadequate".

She said queues at the market have been unlike anything she has seen before.

The market opened on 17 November and will close on 23 November.

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