Visits to towns to check pavement scheme progress

Coun Glen Sanderson takes part in a blindfold walk in Morpeth.
 Picture by Jane Coltman
Coun Glen Sanderson takes part in a blindfold walk in Morpeth. Picture by Jane Coltman

Businesses are being reminded of new rules brought in this year to make pavements in Northumberland safer and easier to negotiate for pedestrians.

Awareness sessions are being held with traders over the next month to remind them of their obligations over pavement signage and the council will be looking to address any areas where the guidelines aren’t being followed.

The guidance was introduced at the beginning of the year, following renewed calls for change from visual action groups, when the county council reviewed its policy on pavement obstructions and brought in new guidelines.

Coun Glen Sanderson said: “As a responsible local authority we need to ensure members of the public can use the streets and footways easily and safely.”

The guidance was designed to balance the needs of pedestrians to be able to visit and shop in safety, with the needs of shops and businesses to promote their services, keeping the local economy vibrant in Northumberland.

It covers items that are classed as unauthorised under the Highways Act, including A-boards, pavement cafes and goods for sale. The guidance also sets out the conditions which must be adhered to if items are to be placed on footpaths and in public areas, and provides specific details about A-boards.

The council worked closely with the Royal National Institute for the Blind and the Northumberland Low Vision Action Group and representatives of other disability groups to consider how best to deal with street clutter, and to support visually-impaired people to live independent lives.

Highway inspectors will be carrying out regular walkabouts in towns across the county and where they identify any issues they will remind local businesses of their obligations and where necessary take follow-up action to ensure compliance with the guidance is being maintained.