Alison backs group’s stance over A-boards

Morpeth Mayor Alison Byard pictured during her blindfold walk in Morpeth town centre.

Morpeth Mayor Alison Byard pictured during her blindfold walk in Morpeth town centre.

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An action group has the support of Morpeth’s Mayor after she was the latest person to do a blindfold challenge.

Alison Byard wore the specialist equipment which simulates blindness on a walk in the town centre.

Morpeth Mayor Alison Byard with members of the Northumberland Low Vision Action Group and the RNIB during the blindfold walk. 'Picture by Jane Coltman

Morpeth Mayor Alison Byard with members of the Northumberland Low Vision Action Group and the RNIB during the blindfold walk. 'Picture by Jane Coltman

She was accompanied by a representative from the RNIB and members of the Northumberland (Low Vision) Action Group (NAG).

They have been highlighting the issue of A-boards, which can obstruct blind and partially sighted people as well as those in wheelchairs and buggies.

Coun Byard said: “It was an interesting experience. It was scary at times and you become extremely aware of the obstacles that can get in the way of those with a visual impairment. A few of the boards were at chest height and with others, walking sticks can go underneath them.

“I could have read many reports about it, but it’s not the same as doing something like this to make you truly appreciate the issue.

“The number of A-boards in Morpeth has gone down in the last year or so, but there are still some in awkward positions where businesses should consider whether they really need them because we want to encourage blind and partially sighted people to shop in the town centre.”

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery and county councillors have also done the blindfold walk in the last couple of years and the authority is looking into street furniture and the process of auditing A-boards across Northumberland.

John Anderson of NAG said: “Following our many conversations with the county council, we hope that progress will be made soon to address this issue.”