Blind vis­i­tor raises fears over paving in Oban cen­tre

The Oban Times - - News - DAVID MCPHEE dm­cphee@oban­

A BLIND man has la­belled the tac­tile paving in Oban’s Com­bie Street as dan­ger­ous, say­ing some­one is go­ing to get killed.

John McQuade, who vis­its fam­ily in Oban on a monthly ba­sis, first no­ticed the prob­lems with the tex­tured paving at the traf­fic lights three months ago.

A ‘bumpy’ sur­face is in place in or­der to help vis­ually im­paired peo­ple feel where the road starts and stops.

How­ever, in some places in Oban it has been worn down and is dif­fi­cult to feel.

Mr McQuade said: ‘You can’t feel it un­der your feet. Some­one is go­ing to get killed – that’s what is go­ing to hap­pen. I first no­ticed it a cou­ple of months back. It’s dan­ger­ous.’

Mr McQuade also high­lighted an­other prob­lem he faces in Com­bie Street. The 57-year-old said: ‘There’s no bar­rier, so you don’t know if you are at the lights. It’s a night­mare.’

Mr McQuade uses the bar­rier as a guide to find the next cross­ing, but be­cause there’s a gap on the is­land in Com­bie Street, he finds him­self walk­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion, to­wards the flo­ral planters.

‘The last time I was up here,’ he added. ‘I ended up at the pier. If I had not spo­ken to some­one, I could have ended up in the sea as there’s no bar­rier there.

‘The plan­ners think it is won­der­ful as long as it looks nice. They don’t see the dan­gers.’

A spokesper­son for Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil said: ‘We have made a num­ber of im­prove­ments in Oban town cen­tre, in­clud­ing ad­di­tional seat­ing in Stafford Street, ex­tra bus shel­ters at Sta­tion Square, and widen­ing and ex­tend­ing dropped kerbs to dis­abled park­ing bays.

‘Else­where, in any ar­eas where nat­u­ral wear and tear oc­curs, such as if paving be­comes worn, this will be ad­dressed as part of our on­go­ing main­te­nance pro­gramme. Any lo­cal res­i­dent who would like to raise an is­sue re­gard­ing bar­ri­ers or worn sur­faces can do so and we will look into those con­cerns.’

A spokesper­son for Guide Dogs Scot­land said: ‘Kerbs and tac­tile sur­faces rep­re­sent a ma­jor source of in­for­ma­tion for ori­en­ta­tion and nav­i­ga­tion for blind and par­tially-sighted peo­ple when mov­ing around. They in­form key de­ci­sion points along a route.

‘We urge lo­cal au­thor­ity plan­ners to fol­low rec­om­men­da­tions set out in the De­part­ment for Trans­port’s guid­ance on the use of tac­tile paving sur­faces.

‘It’s im­por­tant that tac­tile sur­faces are main­tained to a good stan­dard to re­main ef­fec­tive.’

Vis­i­bil­ity, a char­ity vis­ually-im­paired peo­ple in the west of Scot­land, ad­vo­cates town plan­ners speak to blind and par­tially-sighted res­i­dents to seek their opin­ions.

John McQuade with his guide dog Simp­son at Com­bie Street in Oban.

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