Bedfordshire SLC meet with Bedford Council to discuss accessibility of town centre
Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council met with Bedford Borough Council to discuss the challenges blind and partially sighted people face following recent and ongoing developments to Bedford’s High Street.
Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council met with Councillor Henry Vann and Chief Officer for highways transport and engineering, Matthew D’Archambaud, to discuss the challenges that blind and partially sighted people are facing in the area.
Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council spoke about the #Streets4All campaign and the three pledges Sight Loss Councils are asking local councils to commit to better engaging with blind and partially sighted people on highways schemes.
- Seek guidance from blind and partially sighted people and sight loss organisations on highways schemes at the design stage.
- Communicate changes on highways schemes* in an accessible way.
- Carry out Equality Impact Assessments on highways schemes* to evaluate whether the proposed changes are safe and appropriate for disabled pedestrians.
Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council member, Hubert, says that the new open space design of the high street makes it very difficult to navigate as a white cane user as he can no longer connect specific reference points and landmarks.
Bedfordshire SLC also raised the issues caused by extended pavement licenses, street furniture and pavement parking. It was great to hear about the positive considerations the council has made with regards to its Public Spaces Protection Order, which prohibits bicycles from riding in Bedford town centre. The council is actively trying to crack down on the use of private e-scooters. It is illegal to ride e-Scooters on any public road or footway, including Bedford town centre.
The council want to work together with Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council to constructively discuss resolving these issues, given that the work on the High Street is ongoing.
Both Councillor Henry Vann, and Chief Officer for highways transport and engineering, Matthew D’Archambaud, want to go back and look at the changes they can make. They have also said that they will reflect upon the equality impact assessment and whether it’s actually serving the purpose that it should.
Councillor Henry Vann has this to say about the meeting with Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council:
“It was really helpful to meet with Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council, the incredibly helpful insights, information and expertise about areas we were getting right. But also areas we can improve was invaluable. I would highly recommend other councillors across the UK to engage with and listen to their local Sight Loss Council to help build a more inclusive environment.”
– Councillor Henry Vann (Lib Dem), Portfolio Holder for Town Centres and Planning, Bedford Borough.
To find out more about the #StreetsForAll campaign, visit: http://www.sightlosscouncils.org.uk/streetsforall/
Publication date: 03 December 2021