D-Day for shared space proposal

Visually Impaired Forum have led a high-profile campaign against the plan
Visually Impaired Forum have led a high-profile campaign against the plan

It’s D-Day this week for the controversial “shared space” plan at a busy road junction as the full council meets on Thursday to make its decision.

The proposal to ditch the traffic lights at Catherine Street has raised widespread safety fears, particularly among disabled people in 
the town.

East Dunbartonshire Council wants to remove the controlled crossing, safety barriers and kerbs at the 
junction with Kerr Street.

The aim is to create an area where neither pedestrians nor vehicles have right of way and rely on eye contact 
between each other – which opponents say would cause chaos for disabled and blind pedestrians.

SNP Councillor John Jamieson and Independent Councillor Jack Young have voiced their opposition to the plan after it was revealed a partially sighted pensioner died when a similar scheme was given the green light 
in England.

Councillor Young described the plan as “madness.”

Members of East Dunbartonshire Visually Impaired Forum have been staging a protest at the Kirkintilloch junction for many weeks now and their petition has collected almost 4,000 signatures.

They were due to hand it over to the councillors before Thursday’s meeting.

Neighbourhood Watch Scotland expressed its support this week for the disabled group.

Peter Kirwan of the group said on Monday: “As a community safety organisation, Neighbourhood Watch Scotland believes we must design for safety with the interests of a diverse population in mind.

“We would welcome a fuller explanation from East Dunbartonshire Council of how the safety of disabled persons will be safeguarded under the new shared space plan.”

The shared space was trialled last summer and the council said last week it had “functioned successfully”.

But disabled resident Hildegard Bell told the Herald this week: “The reason it was successful was because no one went into the town during the trial, myself included.

“After a fall on my hip, I have to walk slowly with a stick. I won’t go to the town centre in future.”

Local firms have reacted angrily to the plan and Jacqui Fairbairn of Gemini Cards claimed she lost £1,000 during the four-week trial as customers avoided coming to town.