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France will not reach 2015 disabled access target, official report

media The APF delivered wheelchairs to campaign headquarters during last year's … Reuters/Benoit Tessier

France will not reach its targets for disabled access on public transport and in public buildings, a report for Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has concluded. Costs and timeframes were underestimated when the targets were set in 2005, it says, but it also blames a lack of political will.

The target of rendering all French public transport and buildings used by the public accessible to the disabled by 2015 will not be met, the report by Socialist Senator Claire-Lise Campion, handed to Ayrault on Friday, concludes.

But Campion insists that the targets should not be dropped, believing that such a move would send the wrong message to authorities she believes already lack the necessary motivation.

Among the reasons cited for the probable failure were underestimates of sometimes considerable costs and the time necessary to do the necessary work and France’s complicated regulations.

But Campion also declares, “Insufficient political impetus has meant that the actors on the ground have not been mobilised.”

There has been some progress, however.

Between 84 and 99 per cent of newly built homes are accessible and public transport in large towns and cities has visibly improved, thanks to the development of trams and replacement of old buses, Campion says.

The senator makes 40 proposals to speed up the change, including setting calendars that define costs and trying to speed up work from three to four years to two to three.

France’s main disabled pressure group, APF, expressed disappointment at the report, saying that it de facto postponed reaching the target to 2022.

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