Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has backed Guide Dogs for the Blind’s call for streets and public spaces to work for blind and partially sighted people after meeting with representatives of the charity at Labour Party conference.
Alex and the charity – which provides services to support the independence of blind and partially sighted people across the UK – discussed the challenges that blind and partially sighted people face when walking the streets, including pavement parking, street clutter and shared spaces.
Pavements blocked by parked cars or street clutter such as wheelie bins and overhanging branches can force pedestrians to walk into the road, putting them in danger of oncoming traffic. Shared space streets, where vital safety features such as kerbs and controlled crossings are removed, can also be dangerous and disorientating for people with sight loss.
To illustrate these risks, Guide Dogs asked Alex to take a trip down memory lane and play the ‘Navigation Game’ – a take on the classic final challenge of the Generation Game – memorising the hazards that a guide dog owner might encounter on a typical journey.
Guide Dogs are calling for action on the most common dangers for people with sight loss, including a new law limiting pavement parking to areas determined by the local council, action from local authorities on street clutter and a safety review of existing shared space schemes.
When a street is blocked with obstacles or lacks vital safety features, it can make the difference between getting out and about with confidence or feeling forced to stay at home.
Our public spaces should work for everyone. That’s why I’m supporting Guide Dogs for the Blind’s call for better guidelines on street furniture and clutter, and to review the shared spaces scheme.