A guide-dog charity has joined calls to get rid of obstructions on the pavements of Ilkley after hearing of a campaign for better maintenance of the town’s streets.
Leeds representatives of Guide Dogs have said they ask councils to consider the hazards posed to visually impaired people after reading our leader column early in March.
In the column, we called on members of the community to play their own part in taking care of Ilkley, following calls for improvements in Ilkley’s appearance and a complaint about drivers parking on and churning up grass verges.
An Ilkley parish councillor recently gave a presentation to fellow councillors, showing blots on the street landscape ranging from patched-up pavements to rubbish dumped in doorways, rusty street furniture and advertising A-boards. The Leeds branch of Guide Dogs is calling on others to help in its campaign to eliminate inconsiderate parking on pavements and the amount of clutter on the streets.
It says pavement parking, as well as unnecessary signage, railings, wheelie bins, bollards and advertising boards make life doubly difficult for visually impaired people.
Broken kerbs and overhanging bushes can also be dangerous to blind and partially sighted people.
And it is calling on householders to be careful where they put their wheelie bins, maintain their hedgerows and take the time to trim overhanging branches.
Community engagement officer for Guide Dogs in Leeds, Debbie Linford, said: “We are pleased to see the editor of this newspaper express its concern about the visual impact of street clutter, pavement and verge parking and litter.
“We support fully any attempt by town councils to draw attention to the visual deterioration of local streets, but we would ask councils to consider the actual hazards that they represent, especially to visually impaired people.”
Guide dogs are trained to go around pavement hazards and on to the road if necessary but this can put the dog and owner in danger or leave them feeling unsafe so close to passing traffic.
A recent survey, says Guide Dogs, showed that 97 per cent of blind and partially sighted pedestrians had experienced problems with obstructions on the pavement.
As part of the Streets Ahead campaign, Guide Dogs says it will work with urban design professionals so the needs of blind and partially sighted people are well understood at the beginning of the design process.