Fresh call for action

Members of the Northumberland Low Vision Action Group with Mary Spence from Guide Dogs (second from right).

Members of the Northumberland Low Vision Action Group with Mary Spence from Guide Dogs (second from right).

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CAMPAIGNERS have renewed their calls for action against portable advertising signs on the streets of Morpeth that pose a major hazard to visually-impaired people.

Over the last few years, members of the Northumberland (Low Vision) Action Group (NAG) have raised their concerns about some of the A-boards in the town centre getting in their way with Northumberland County Council.

They are hoping that the new administration at County Hall will look into the matter. Treasurer John Anderson said the issue is more pressing because the number of these signs has increased in the last 18 months and the most recent check by a group member found that there were 101 of them across the Morpeth area.

“We’ve been disappointed with the lack of action against A-boards that we believe pose a clear danger to blind and partially-sighted people,” he added.

“We’re not against these signs in general because they do help businesses, but there are quite a few in Morpeth which pose a problem and they also hamper wheelchair users, those with pushchairs and elderly people.

“We have issued a challenge to Coun Susan Dungworth, policy board member for adult care and public health at the county council, to walk around Morpeth wearing glasses which simulate vision impairment so she can find out for herself the problems that some A-boards create.”

Other issues raised at a recent NAG meeting included people with sight loss having to go on the road to navigate dustbins that had been left on the pavement when emptied, the growing number of areas with cracked pavements, which have caused residents to trip and stumble, and the need for an additional rehabilitation officer to help newly-registered blind people.

According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the total number of those registered blind in Northumberland is 1,455 and the estimated number of county residents with some degree of sight loss is 10,910.

Mary Spence from Guide Dogs was also in attendance and she told members about some of the charity’s current campaigns, including its call for a change in the law to make audio and visual information available on board every bus and coach in the UK.