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PAVEMENTS: Remove the obstacles

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An open letter to Alnwick Town Council and Highways, Planning and Street Works at Northumberland County Council.

I am writing to you to highlight some growing concerns that have been brought to my attention over the past few weeks.

As you will be aware, accessibility in our towns across Northumberland, especially those with a more historic nature, is a challenge which has never really gone away.

Many councils and various local authorities have actively tried to tackle these problems.

However, these issues persist and they are negatively impacting the lives of local residents.

After meeting with a blind Alnwick resident recently, I accompanied him on a walk around the town centre to see for myself how bad these problems were.

I was completely shocked at the lack of access caused by unnecessary and awkwardly placed A-frames from businesses along pathways, which are barely wide enough as it is.

It’s my belief that there must be a mandatory minimum distance of 1.6m between any A-frames and the kerb.

In three separate places in the town centre area, I measured less than one metre width available. In some cases, in Narrowgate especially, there are A-frames on the inside and outside of the path.

I ask you to take what action you can to deal with this problem, which is limiting the lives of our disabled residents, who are endangering themselves using our high street.

I understand the lack of resources must make enforcement of the A-frame rules very difficult, but I would like to stress that I don’t think we can expect residents to be safe forced into the path of oncoming traffic, with families using pushchairs, elderly people relying on steady and safe pavements, people using wheelchairs, and blind and disabled residents struggling to access local services and shops because of these issues and the effect that must have on their confidence.

In addition to this, there is a ‘keep clear’ sign painted on one side of a dropped curb at the entrance to Greenwell Lane on Alnwick high street.

There is no such signage on the opposite side of the road, next to Bailey’s Café and Skirrow Insurance and, as a result, this side sees cars regularly parking and obstructing this vital access point.

I saw for myself how problematic this can be recently and would urge you to take what action you can to correct this and have the same ‘keep clear’ painted markings installed for the benefit of the town and its residents.

We surely cannot wait until a serious accident happens before proper action is taken.

James Matthewson,

Alnwick