Campaigner awaits Holyrood’s verdict on safety of shared space

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A disabled campaigner who has led the battle against a town centre’s shared space scheme will know in just over a week if his plea to halt the work has been successful.

Sandy Taylor, who is blind, appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee in January.

He appealed to ministers for a moratorium on all shared spaces in Scotland until safety and equality issues have been addressed.

The committee will reconvene to deliver its decision on Tuesday, March 8.

Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP Fiona McLeod is 
supporting campaigners.

In a report in the Herald in December, Ms McLeod said she feared for the safety of her constituents if the traffic lights were removed from 
the busy Catherine Street junction.

Complaints were still coming in to the Herald this week after the first phase of the work at Kirkintilloch town centre began at the beginning of the month.

Cowgate is to shut to vehicles in continuous phases until August 2017.

During the first phase, which will last for three months, Cowgate will be closed to vehicles between Townhead Bridge and Catherine Street.

East Dunbartonshire Council voted through the shared space last year, despite fierce opposition from thousands of people.

Mr Taylor, who is Chair of East Dunbartonshire Visually Impaired People’s Forum (EDVIP), told the Herald: “We will consider the outcome 
of the Public Petitions 
Committee carefully.

“Our forum has been campaigning against this project for a year and a half and 
local people are now facing the reality of what the council is proposing for the town centre.

“The disruption at Cowgats has brought the council’s plans to the attention of many local people for the first 
time.

“The council have no mandate to install this scheme as the vast majority of the people are vehemently against 
it and 3,500 of them signed 
our petition against its 
adoption.

“Despite this, the council are determined to install it as they secured government funding.”

All traffic lights and pedestrian crossings will be removed from the full length of Cowgate, from the canal at St Mary’s Church, along to the library, including those at the busy Catherine Street 
junction, as part of the scheme.

Mr Taylor said: “Disabled people, those who are blind, the elderly and infirm, 
children and other vulnerable people will be unable 
to cross Cowgate safely 
without having to make a detour of up to half a mile as the only safe controlled crossing will be at the canal.

“This is unreasonable and unacceptable.

“While the cosmetic changes are welcome, a scheme which excludes many vulnerable people and puts the lives of everyone at risk, is most certainly not and we will continue to vigorously oppose it.”

The Herald contacted East Dunbartonshire 
Council but it declined to comment 
on the imminent decision 
of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee.