Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wrecked pavements deemed unsafe for the visually impaired

BLIND charities are calling for pavements in Wakefield city centre to be made safer for visually impaired people.

Last Friday, voluntary groups, including the West Riding Blind Association (WRBA), held a Pavement Day – an event to highlight the dangers faced by blind people in public areas.Campaigners say lampposts, flower tubs and signs at head height can all

pose a danger to visually impaired people, and should bear brightly-coloured markers.And they are calling for the steps in the Cathedral precinct to be given white edges.Pam Walters, chief executive of the WRBA, said the group was hoping to work with Wakefield Council to tackle the problemShe said she was keen to encourage bar and cafe owners to be aware of the dangers of stray chairs and other objects on pavements.

She said: "Over the next year we are going to be taking photographs across the district to highlight the range of issues about pavements."Sometimes there are cultural issues. There is more smoking outside now, for example, which means there are a lot more cafe chairs and other things outside."Voluntary groups across the country are calling for pavements to be made safer.

A spokesperson for the National Federation for the Blind said: "In the past 30 years pavements have got steadily more cluttered and less money has been spent on maintenance, leading to thousands of accidents where pedestrians have tripped, resulting in serious injuries and even deaths."

Coun Denise Jeffery, Wakefield Council's deputy leader, said: "We are committed to ensuring equality of access to public spaces and buildings. We constantly review and further develop how we make streets safely accessible for everyone."


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