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Charter seeks to clear Exeter’s streets of obstacles and clutter
Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Councils in Exeter have pledged to ensure that the city’s streets, pavements and walkways are kept free of clutter and obstacles and accessible to people affected by sight loss or mob

Councils in Exeter have pledged to ensure that the city’s streets, pavements and walkways are kept free of clutter and obstacles and accessible to people affected by sight loss or mobility issues.

Leaders of both Exeter City Council and Devon County Council have signed a Clear Streets Charter for the city.

The Charter sets out how the local authorities propose to work together to ensure that the city is as safe and obstacle free as possible. Exeter is one of the first places in the UK to adopt such a charter.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has backed the charter. Steve Hyde, RNIB Regional Campaigns Officer for the South West, said:

“RNIB launched the ‘Clear Streets Charter Campaign’ nationally in 2015 to ensure that the built environment was accessible to blind and partially sighted people. We carried out a survey in which a third of people said they had been injured during a three-month period when walking around their local area. They said they were so intimidated by the risks outside, they ended up staying at home and becoming isolated. We don’t want people to feel this way.”

“We commend all of the hard work, and commitment shown by Devon County and Exeter City Councils to ensure that people with sight loss those with other disabilities can access this region in the knowledge that their safety is at the heart of the community. “

Both councils believe engaging with the local community is crucial in helping to make decisions which will affect Exeter. This includes design, layout and management of the city centre, shopping precincts and residential streets to ensure that they are free from obstacles and clutter-free.

Devon County Council’s sensory team helped highlight the challenge that high street clutter poses to people affected by sight loss or mobility issues, during a city-centre walk in the summer. The team provided rehabilitation officers to guide attendees who wore glasses that simulate different eye conditions. The group helped demonstrate how street furniture such as advertising boards, cycle racks, and benches can be problematic for visually impaired people. And how a lack of kerbs or tactile pavement can cause difficulties for people.

The Charter sets out a list of actions and commitments.  These include:

• Advertising boards– working with local businesses to make them realise how these can be challenging to blind people or those who are partially sighted.
• Street furniture – carrying out regular audits to ensure this is safe and appropriately placed to allow safe navigation around
• New developments – proactive engagement with blind and partially sighted people around the design and development
• Rubbish and recycling bins – ensuring these are within the curtilage of the property, wherever possible

 

Click to view larger images

DCC Leader John Hart (left), ECC Leader Pete Edwards (right). In background are local campaigner Marilyn Lant and Steve Hyde for RNIB

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Living Options Devon is a well respected user-led organisation which works to ensure that people with disabilities and Deaf people can live the life they choose. Set up in 1990 LOD is a registered charity (Charity N0. 1102489) and a company limited by guarantee (No. 4925281). Based in Exeter and Barnstaple, our charitable aims mean we we can offer services across the South West and share good practice throughout the UK. Being led and run by people with disabilities and Deaf people ensures LOD has first hand knowledge and understanding of the issues facing service users and so is very well placed to increase the influence and voice of Deaf and disabled people. We do this by providing education, training and services which enable people to live the lives they choose.

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