‘Fatally flawed road plan must be stopped’

Disabled campaigners have welcomed a new report 
urging East Dunbartonshire Council to halt its plans for a busy town centre junction.

The Herald reported last week that former Paralympian Lord Holmes, who is blind, has blasted “shared space” schemes as “dangerous and costly planning follies”.

After conducting an in-depth survey, he is calling for a moratorium on all schemes - weeks before work is due to being at Catherine Street junction in Kirkintilloch.

The council wants to remove traffic lights and safety barriers at the junction as part of its shared space plans.

Sandy Taylor, Chairman of East Dunbartonshire Visually Impaired Forum, which has been at the forefront of the campaign against the plans for Catherine Street, told the Herald the long-awaited report from Lord Holmes “highlighted all the factors EDVIP had been expressing to the council for many months.”

He said: “More than 3,500 local people signed our petition to stop the removal of controlled crossings and traffic lights in our town centre.

“They remembered the utter chaos, confusion and anxiety caused during the trial of the shared space scheme last summer. We at EDVIP will continue to campaign against this fatally flawed scheme, in the knowledge that we have the support of the vast majority of the public. The whole thing is utterly absurd and disable people are being put at risk.”

The council’s director of development and regeneration, Thomas Glen, said: “We have already amended some of our plans in response to community feedback and we have established an Equality Design Forum which is attended by all interested local groups as well organisations such as Guide Dogs UK and Deaf Blind Scotland, and other council officers such as the council’s equality policy adviser and sensory impairment officer.

“A future Equality Design Forum is planned and will continue to help positively shape the proposals for the 
Cowgate.”

After hundreds of people protested outside council HQ in April this year, the council put forward last-minute safety concessions in the form of pelican crossings at Catherine Street and Kerr Street.

But this week it was unclear whether the council plans to retain the crossings permanently.

Mr Glen refused to confirm or deny this and would only say: “The additional crossings at Catherine Street and Kerr Street will be monitored following the implementation of the shared space scheme.”