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King Street scheme sparks safety fears
A CHARITY has voiced concerns over plans to transform Knutsford’s busiest street.
The working group of Knutsford Town Plan showcased the results of its King Street enhancement work – which began as a consultation in April 2012 – to Knutsford Town Council in September.
After counting the responses, the group revealed the shared space scheme was the favourite with residents.
But town plan members said at the time it would not take place until 2016 at the earliest.
However, Guide Dogs for the Blind has told the Guardian it has concerns over the proposals for a shared space scheme in Knutsford, and it would be keen for the local authority to offer some reassurances as to how this scheme will ensure that the environment will remain safe for blind and partially-sighted people.
Tony Cook, Guide Dogs engagement manager, said: “The shared space concept relies on eye contact between a driver and pedestrian to negotiate the space they are sharing,” he said.
“Naturally blind and partially-sighted people suffer from increased danger under these circumstances, and this can create a no-go area for them.
“Good lighting, contrast and a difference in underfoot surface to separate a safe pedestrian area from the road is a must. We are intrigued by the reference made to the use of ‘guide poles’.
“This use is unknown to us, and in our view would only serve as another obstacle for blind or partially-sighted people to negotiate.
“We are not alone in our concern – some 40 other disability charities also share our thoughts.
“However, it’s not only the disabled who may be at risk. In narrow streets such as those in Knutsford there may be a tendency for shopkeepers to begin to display their wares on the shared area, thus forcing all pedestrians including young children, parents with prams and the elderly into the path of traffic.
“When the time comes the council have a duty under the Equalities Act to undertake meaningful consultation with disabled people and their representatives.
“Guide Dogs would be happy to assist with a consultation process to ensure that the needs of blind and partially-sighted people are met whilst supporting the wider aims of keeping Knutsford a scenic and prosperous town.”
For more information visit guidedogs.org.uk.