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Visually impaired resident demands action over ‘nightmare’ town centre pavement

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LOCAL campaigner, Caroline Fielding, has reignited the debate  about how pedestrian safety can be improved on the high pavement area on Bank Street.

Caroline – who is registered blind and relies on a guide dog – is demanding that more work be done to find a solution, after being told that safety railings cannot be installed in the area due to “prohibitive” costs.

“I can understand the cost of heavy railings being prohibitive for the high pavement in Melksham,” said Caroline, “but wonder whether an investigation has been made into lighter railings, ie aluminium.

“At the very least, I would like to see tactile markings all along the edge of the pavement. This would allow anyone using a long white cane to recognise the hazard.”

Concerns about the safety of the high pavement area on Bank Street were again raised in January this year. Residents living with visual impairment, including Caroline, called for safety measures – such as railings along the entire course of the pavement, or tactile paving to indicate where the edge of the pavement is – be installed to reduce the risk of accidents.

The area, which has a drop in some places of 3ft onto the main road, was described as “dangerous”, “frightening” and “a nightmare” for people living with visual impairment.

In response, Melksham Town Council agreed in February to carry out an informal investigation into possible solutions.

Contacting the town council for an update, Caroline was told by a spokesperson, “The possibility of railings has been looked into and tested, but the existing pavement is not strong enough to hold the proposed barrier. 

“In 2013, in order to make the pavement safer, a high friction surface was commissioned and implemented by Wiltshire Council. I appreciate this is not the answer that you were looking forward to, but as it is a matter that has been researched in depth, there seems to be nothing else that Wiltshire Council can do.”

Information shared with Caroline, also revealed that a Wiltshire Council representative had said, “As an engineering exercise it would be possible to reconstruct the high pavement in order to accommodate railings, but the cost of doing this is simply too prohibitive.”

One Response to Visually impaired resident demands action over ‘nightmare’ town centre pavement

  1. Simon Jones

    October 20, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    It’s always been blatantly obvious that Melksham Town Council have no regard people with sight disabilities when you can allow crossings with no sound in the centre of your own and the reason being it might disturb someone who has bought a property above it secondly the spend vast quantities of money on railings going across a bridge and yet allow a large drop on the side of the pavement in the town centre itself with no physical barrier at all it comes as no surprise to me or a lot of people that the short-sightedness is far greater in the town council and you could possibly imagine

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