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VIDEO: New junction blasted by pedestrians

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Blind people in Blackpool today claimed they are being put off visiting the town centre because roads are too difficult for them to cross.

The worst, they say, is the new junction at Talbot Road and Clifton Street which opened last year as part of the new-look Talbot Gateway.

Members of Blackpool’s blind charity N-Vision say the colour of the road surface at the shared space junction blends in with the pavement, and with no kerb to direct them they have no idea where the road side is.

And as guide dogs are trained to recognise the kerb, they are getting confused.

As well as being blind, Sue Wakeley is also deaf and uses a guide dog to help her get around.

She said: “You have to take your life in your hands. It’s been horrendous.”

Mark Beetham, 49, of South Shore, uses a white cane for assistance.

He said: “I am in the middle of the road before I realise it. They say we’re supposed to able to hear traffic coming around the roundabout, but it’s too busy to know what’s going on.”

Guide dog owner Carole Holmes added: “Having lived in Blackpool all my life, I never thought of myself as being disabled until now.”

The junction features some tactile paving – studs on the ground to mark the pavement edge – but N-Vision’s clients says they are the wrong colour and size to be any use.

Kevin Winkley, chief executive of N-Vision, said: “We don’t want any no-go areas in our town – we want to be able to go around with full independence but with junctions like this we’re not able to.”

Nick Gradwell, co-chairman of the independent Low Vision Committee, which represents some of Blackpool’s visually impaired community, added: “We feel the new junction is very probably a hazard.

“We were quite clear when it was proposed that such measures as tactile paving had to be in place. Unfortunately these representations have so far been largely ignored.”

Coun John Jones, Blackpool Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Before work began on the Talbot Gateway Central Business District we were keen to make sure it was accessible to everyone and consulted with low vision service users to help adapt it for people who have a disability. Some suggestions were incorporated and some, which were not possible by law, were not.
“These types of crossing have a good safety record in other areas of the town. I am happy to speak to people to listen to their feedback.”

Councillor happy to hear feedback

Coun John Jones, Blackpool Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Before work began on the Talbot Gateway Central Business District we were keen to make sure it was accessible to everyone and consulted with low vision service users to help adapt it for people who have a disability. Some suggestions were incorporated and some, which were not possible by law, were not.
“These types of crossing have a good safety record in other areas of the town. I am happy to speak to people to listen to their feedback.”

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