Calls for shared space inquiry

Campaigners outside the door to 10 Downing Street.

Campaigners outside the door to 10 Downing Street.

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A leading disabled campaigner is calling for the Prime Minister to initiate an independent inquiry into the safety of shared spaces.

Sandy Taylor, who is blind, is heading the protest against the controversial design in Kirkintilloch town centre.

Thousands of people are against the shared space, with disabled people in particular saying they are effectively 
being banished from the high street as they will not be able to cross the road safely.

On a trip to London last week with members of East Dunbartonshire Visually Impaired People’s Forum (ED VIP), Mr Taylor handed over a petition at No.10, asking PM David Cameron for an inquiry.

Mr Taylor told the Herald: “An independent inquiry into the design and function of shared spaces is urgently needed for the safe movement of all disabled people, including those who cannot see 
moving vehicles.”

He, along with fellow campaigners including Sarah Gayton who has made films on the dangers of shared spaces, then made a presentation to the Transport Select Committee at Westminster.

Mr Taylor said: “The committee generously granted us 50 minutes for a presentation which we felt was very 
successful.

“As well as myself and Sarah, there were representatives from the House of Lords, Institute for Blind, EDVIP, Guide Dogs and others, including two engineers. All have been campaigning against shared spaces.”

Mr Taylor is also petitioning the Scottish Parliament for a moratorium on all such schemes in Scotland until equality and safety issues have been addressed.

The project in Kirkintilloch is due to be completed by summer 2017 and will see traffic lights removed from junctions, and vehicles and pedestrians sharing the same space using ‘courtesy crossings’.

The first phase of the 
work, which has seen Cowgate closed between Townhead Bridge and Catherine Street since February, was on track, according to East Dunbartonshire Council, to be finished by Monday, June 20.

The council insist the scheme will bring huge benefits to the town centre for residents and businesses.

When the plans were revealed last year, Council leader Rhondda Geekie said research had shown making places better for walking can “boost footfall and trading by up to 40 per cent”.