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FOLLOWING criticism from the charity Wiltshire Sight, Melksham Town Council has discussed the improvements which are needed to the Market Place in order to benefit those who are partially sighted.
Local charity, Wiltshire Sight, had highlighted a number of problems with the Market Place that could cause confusion and be potential hazards. These issues include a lack of colour contrast between the stone benches and paving; a flower pot placed in the wrong location and a hazardous road crossing.
Deputy Mayor, cllr Jon Hubbard, talking to BBC Wiltshire said, “Unfortunately, as it stands, we got it wrong with the benches that are in. Not that the benches themselves are a mistake, they are beautiful and we are really proud of them. We need to do something to make them more obvious to people who are partially sighted or cannot differentiate between the shades as clearly as perhaps you or I can.
“The good news is, we have listened to the advice from Wiltshire Sight, we were disappointed we didn’t get this advice during the consultation period because we could have got it right from the start, but you know, you live and learn.
“You know, certainly from the town council, you’ve got 15 volunteers who sat round the table and give up their time to figure out how to try and improve our amenities, and we do rely on professional advice. Wiltshire Council did have some very expensive contractors who helped design the scheme and it was a shame it wasn’t highlighted. But you know what, we stuffed up, we got it wrong, we could spend a lot of time getting upset about that or we could concentrate on actually getting it right.
“I think the advice we have got from Wiltshire Sight is really, really helpful. We want to work with them now and there are immediate solutions we have agreed with them such as putting flowerpots next to the sides of the benches which will be of a very different colour, they will stand out and make it safer for people.
“With regards to the crossing point, unfortunately the town council doesn’t have control over that. We have referred that matter up to Wiltshire Council, the CATG (Community Area Transport Group), because that’s a highways issue and we cannot do anything about the highway.”
Cllr Hubbard was then asked about how much this would add to the total cost of the project.
He replied, “Oh, not very much at all, in terms of buying the flowerpots, you’re talking £400-£500 to put either side of the benches. In terms of the round bench, we are going to put in a short-term immediate solution of some markings to show the benches there.
“We are going to ask the stonemason to come back down and ask him how much it would cost to get some markings put around it, but then again we will only be talking a couple of hundred pounds, and that probably wouldn’t be any more than we had paid if we had done it at the outset of the project.”
The flower trough, which was discussed by the town council and Wiltshire Sight, has also been repositioned to avoid any accidents.