Public Affairs: Guide dogs group attacks road plans

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is preparing for a major lobbying offensive to stop councils building 'shared surfaces' in town centres.

Shared surfaces are a new concept led by designer Ben Hamilton-Baillie where the kerb between the pavement and road is removed. This allows cars, bicycles and pedestrians to 'share' the road.

Shared surfaces already exist in parts of Newbury, Coventry and Newcastle and the charity is worried about the growing number of councils that are planning to create shared areas.

Sites are proposed in South Kensington and Lewes, and one is already under construction in Ashford in Kent.

Head of comms Louise Robertshaw said a lobbying push would get under way early next year. 'We will be calling on the Government to introduce a moratorium on new surface schemes,' she said.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association believes the concept creates problems for blind and partially sighted people as well as other vulnerable road users. People who use guide dogs are particularly at risk because dogs are usually trained to stop at the kerb.

As well as taking part in stakeholder relations in local areas, the charity will focus on getting coverage in the nationals. It will ask the Government to issue guidance to authorities that the use of shared surfaces is unacceptable.

Robertshaw joined the charity this month as head of comms. She was previously head of comms and marketing at Bracknell Forest Council.

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