Recently scrutiny councillors heard first hand from people with visual or other impairments about problems they had encountered getting about town because “A-Boards” on the pavement.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet had agreed to trial a policy limiting boards in Hebden Bridge but members agreed it does need much closer examination.
Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said there was no national or local policy on the boards so any policy would be a betterment but it deed need looking at further.
“It is maybe that we were perhaps a little bit hasty because we were keen to respond to the kind of things people were saying about some of the incidents they had experienced, in terms of people particularly with visual impairment tripping over A-Boards in the streets and having nasty accidents.
“But we do accept it is actually good to think again and to give consideration,” she said.
Coun Scullion said doing nothing was ruled out as an option and outlined options which would be considered.
One was the policy initially proposed, which would mean 1.8 metres of pavement would have to be kept clear of obstruction – in Hebden Bridge there are very few pavements over 1.8 metres so would have the effect of a total ban.
A second option, which many towns had introduced, was licensing A-Boards in a particular spot to a particular business, for a small charge.
Designated zones was a third option, with the fourth being a total ban on A-Boards across the borough.
It was important that any policy chosen was clear to the public, to businesses and to the council’s community wardens who would have to enforce it street by street, otherwise it would be pointless if the council could not enforce it, said Coun Scullion.
“We’re keen to respond as quickly as we can , particularly where we have most complaints and that is particularly Hebden Bridge, which does suffer from narrow pavements and has the advantage of lots of tourism and a strong business forum,” she said.
Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot), Cabinet member for Climate Change and Resilience, said the council’s newly agreed Green and Health Streets policy could also inform some of the work – its aims include not only creating nicer places for people to enjoy but also active travel.
At Adults, Health and Scrutiny Board some speakers with visual impairments said they encountered major problems with A-Boards.
But Coun Patient said one aspect of COVID had seen cafes move tables into spaces outside and it was worth noting this had opened them up to people whose disabilities had meant they could not previously use them.
Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab, Calder), Cabinet member for Adult Services and Wellbeing, said the interests of businesses had to be balanced with those of people and spending a lot of time talking to businesses knew of their concerns.
It was about balance and getting it right, he said.
“Our end in sight is making our streets as accessible as they can be to people who have various forms of impairment and disability, for people with prams, but also thinking more generally about the spaces we walk through,” he said.
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