Campaigners fighting to have controversial plans for a busy town centre junction overturned are taking their battle to the Scottish Parliament.
Disabled people in East Dunbartonshire want an urgent meeting with the Scottish Government’s transport minister over the council’s ‘shared space’ proposals for the Catherine Street junction in Kirkintilloch town centre.
The council wants to remove traffic lights and safety barriers at the junction as part of the scheme.
Despite a petition with 3,500-signatures and a protest outside council HQ by more than 400 people at the end of April, councillors voted through the scheme by 13-9 votes. Now members of East Dunbartonshire Visually Impaired Forum, led by chairman Sandy Taylor, want Transport Minister Derek Mackay to take up their concerns after he agreed the Highway Code does not cover the council’s plans.
Sandy said: “Council leader Rhondda Geekie’s recent claim the introduction of the shared space scheme in Kirkintilloch would lead to the ‘pedestrian being king’ has been dealt a severe setback.
“Mr Mackay quoted the following from the Highway Code – ‘pedestrians have no explicit right of way in law at uncontrolled crossings and in the event of an incident, it would be for the courts to determine where liability lay’.
“Mr Mackay further revealed the Highway Code was last updated in September 2007 and there are no plans to make any further amendments.”
Disabled protestors say last-minute safety measures by the council, including two pelican crossings at Catherine Street and Kerr Street, are “not good enough”.
Sandy said: “At the first meeting last week of the inappropriately named equality design forum set up by the council, it became apparent this scheme will rely on the public milling around the street to help slow the traffic. We therefore must be expendable.”
He added: “People with disabilities are effectively being designed out of the town centre. People will stay away as it will not be safe.”
Thomas Glen, director of development and regeneration at the council, said the equality design forum had been set up to champion access issues and assist in decisions such as kerbing, pavements, crossing points, street lighting, transport movement and parking.
The first forum meeting was well attended, he said, by group representatives and the council’s equality policy advisor and sensory impairment officer, as well as Sustrans Scotland.
He added: “From this session, the project team has suggestions that can be taken forward and investigated further.”
Work is expected to start on the scheme by late September.