On Monday 2 March 2015 I attended a prerecording of an interview with BBC Sussex’s, Danny Pike, and Cllr Stephanie Powell, chair of Brighton and Hove’s licencing committee, regarding the Council’s new initiative around street clutter.
For more info regarding their press release please go to:
The interview is to be aired sometime later this week. Cllr Powell and myself undertook a walkabout with Danny in the centre of town to investigate how horrendously dangerous it is for those who have mobility, physical and sensory problems let alone mothers with children in push chairs and elderly people. He did a video, which will go up on their Facebook page soon. (See the link below).
Several national charities are involved in big street clutter and pavement parking campaigns such as Guide Dogs (UK) and the RNIB. Locally the Fed Centre for Independent Living’s Get Involved Group (GIG) is also pushing for uncluttered streets through the active campaigning of their members like myself.
For those of you who don’t know, I am totally blind with a guide dog, Thomas, who gets me around safely even when the streets are cluttered with bicycles, street furniture, bins, scaffolding and all forms of advertising like A-frame boards. This hasn’t, however stopped me from walking into street clutter as there are times when I leave my boy at home and walk out with my white cane. As a GIG member I have been involved in various consultations around street design especially the new redevelopment of the Brighton station and the seven dials redevelopment. These unfortunately weren’t redeveloped in such a way as to take on board what was said at the times of the consultations hence the issues that are now starting to arise. From these consultations and the work I do as an independent disability rights campaigner in the city, I was approached by the producers of BBC Sussex Danny Pike show to discuss the Council’s new street clutter initiative.
I have seen first-hand how street clutter affects all those who have to get around it to move around safely and independently. There are times when street clutter forces people out into the road to get round it all to get back onto the veritable safety of the pavement. Of course, for those of us who have sensory, physical and mobility issues or are users of white canes, guide dogs, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, trolleys, push chairs etc being forced out into the road is an extremely dangerous and nightmarish activity to undertake.
Just imagine for a moment that you have a disability or are frail or are pushing a buggy with a baby in it and you have to walk off the kerb to get round tables, chairs and A-frame boards and you have oncoming traffic. For anybody sighted and non-disabled it is a tricky endeavour to undertake let alone when you are disabled and having to listen or look very carefully or put your faith in a guide dog to get you safely back onto the pavement. Not a position any person wants to be put in willingly.
As a disability rights campaigner and a disabled person myself I warmly welcome the initiative that is being put into action this week to enforce licensing permissions and marked out areas for tables chairs and all forms of marketing to be placed. The one downside to this I believe is that they don’t indicate which parts of the city are going to be marked out to enforce the initiative. Therefore we are pushing the Council to mark out all the areas which are cluttered and therefore force people to start becoming aware of what it is we have to face on a daily basis just trying to live independently without the burden of added problems such as street clutter and pavement parking.