Pavement clutter such as A-boards and shop displays are a major problem for blind and disabled people in the district, Bradford Council has been warned.
Now, following a forthright debate during a health and social care overview and scrutiny committee meeting, the Council’s executive will be asked to decide whether obstructions should be removed all together.
Councillors on the committee agreed to pass the matter to the executive for review and chairman Councillor Mike Gibbons said: “We must ensure this Council uses its best resources to bring about change. It is a widespread problem. We will do our best to take it as far as we possibly can.”
One woman, a wheelchair user, told the meeting: “Put yourself in our position. Close your eyes and try to get around Bradford.”
A blind man said: “This has been going on for years and years. Getting around has been getting more and more difficult.
“Give us back our pavements. We have got to come back to saying nothing on the pavement. Fudge rules mean costing money, time and discussions.
“Get a ruling in place. There’s no need for shoe racks, bike racks, cars or vans.
“You spend all your life running round trying to enforce things. It’s about time this Council and other councils got the law changed to give the pavements back for the users.”
Richard Gelder, transportation development manager at the Council, said: “It is a constant procession of going out to speak to the business owner, having a word, and the board being moved. But it is soon back again.
“We don’t have a three strikes and out policy because legislation doesn’t allow that. People can move a display and the clock starts again for them.
“In the last eight weeks we have been to one shop 51 times. They move their A-board but as soon as our back is turned the A-board goes back.”
Susan Crowe, of the Strategic Disability Partnership, said: “We need a three strikes and you’re out amendment to policy so that prolific offenders are removed.”
Coun Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley) said: “The A-boards are the bigger menace, the joker in the pack. One day they are in one place, one day they are in another.
“I would see the back of A-boards completely. They distract and disturb.
“Leave shop displays alone at this moment and tackle A-boards.”
Emmerson Walgrove, deputy chairman of the Bradford and District Disabled People’s Forum, said: “We support the decision by the committee to refer this matter to the executive.
“We believe that there is no need for shops or any other store to use A-boards, which cause serious problems for people who are visual-impaired or in a wheelchair as the pavements are not accessible for them, meaning they are being discriminated against.
“But it has to be also noted that there are many other, sometimes temporary, obstructions that can cause problems for disabled people, particularly those with visual impairments. Refuse bins, sand sculptures, vehicles and bicycles parked on pavements are all potential hazards.”