Disabled treated with “contempt”

Sandy Taylor, left
Sandy Taylor, left

Campaigners fighting plans for a busy town centre junction have hit out at measures set up by the council to consult with disabled people.

And they say a recent BBC TV programme revealed the shared space scheme is “fundamentally flawed.”

Their spokesman, Sandy Taylor of East Dunbartonshire Visually Impaired Forum, said his members and other disabled people were “being treated with contempt”.

He described the council’s new Equality Design Forum as “just a talking shop.”

East Dunbartonshire Council wants to remove traffic lights and safety barriers as part of the new shared space scheme at Catherine Street.

Despite a petition with 3,500 signatures and a protest by 400 people in April, councillors voted through the scheme by 13-9 votes. Last-minute safety concessions of two pelican crossings were “not good enough”, said campaigners.

A council spokesman told the Herald community groups and representatives are “helping to shape the ambitious plans to breathe new life into Kirkintilloch town centre” through the newly established equality forum, which met for the second time recently.

But Sandy said: “This is just a talking shop to make everyone think we are being consulted. Disabled pedestrians and the elderly must share my disgust at the contempt by which we are being treated, along with a callous disregard for our safety.”

Campaigners said their fears had been realised after similar schemes in England were highlighted recently on BBC1’s The One Show.

Sandy said: “It showed the fear and anguish caused to a blind pedestrian and his guide dog as they tried to cross a busy street at an uncontrolled crossing. Is this the sort of environment the council wishes to create? It is clear from the One Show the scheme is fundamentally flawed.

“On the show, studio guest Paul O’Grady said he had never seen anything so ludicrous in his life and we agree with him.”