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Photo – Emily with Campaigners Tracey Collins and Michael Parsons by Hackbridge Crossing

 Photo – Emily with Campaigners Tracey Collins and Michael Parsons by Hackbridge Crossing

Taking an unusual official visit into her neighbouring constituency of Carshalton and Wallington, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam, Emily Brothers today visited crossings at The Heart of Hackbridge scheme. Ms Brothers who is herself blind and a former UK President of The National Federation of the Blind was asked to visit Hackbridge by campaigners worried about the safety of new crossings.
Tracey Collins and Michael Parsons explained the layout to Ms Brothers, who in the early 1990’s lived in Hackbridge. After their walk over the crossings, Ms Brothers said:
“I welcome the investment being put into Hackbridge. Along with many of the small retailers that I recall from many years ago, new retail outlets and homes will further improve the area.
“Lib Dem Sutton Council are defeating that objective though, simply by turning the area into a ‘no go zone’ for some residents and visitors. The newly designed ‘Shared space’ scheme is dangerous, particularly for children and blind people.
“The roads should be red, pavements beige and crossings white apparently. Yet the ‘London Borough of Sadists’ have ended up with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. That is likely to end in even more pain.
“From what campaigners explained to me, there is no colour contrast to help children or other pedestrians. I also got a very clear impression that drivers were confused by the system, illustrated by a lorry backing out of Hackbridge Road, across London Road and into Mile Road in a very dangerous way. This wasn’t the only incident we witnessed.
“The principle behind ‘Shared Spaces’ is that pedestrians need to have eye contact with drivers. That isn’t going to work for me or Mr Parsons, not even with his guide dog.
“As a blind person using a white cane it wasn’t possible for me to locate the crossing points safely. There is no distinction between road and pavement, with the textured paving being limited, making it all quite hit and miss.
“I was particularly worried by the crossing over Hackbridge Road, as it is very wide and difficult for a blind person to maintain a straight line. I recall this being the case previously, but the zebra crossing provided some protection because drivers gave way to pedestrians. This so-called courtesy system isn’t something I would try today alone.
“Improvements in access for wheelchair users are welcome, but the needs of visually impaired people or children simply haven’t been addressed. That’s why my colleague, Siobhan Tate, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam, has been calling for improvements to the scheme.
“I really don’t understand why Lib Dem Councillors haven’t listened to local residents. They have disregarded the views of parents and local blind people in planning this new traffic management scheme. That’s why The Heart of Hackbridge needs resuscitation. They have lost the pulse of the community.
“Personally, I think six different crossing points so close together just doesn’t work. My view is that the three central crossings should be removed and barriered off, with the other three being upgraded to pelican or puffin crossings. That would deal with much of my safety concerns. As the scheme is currently configured, I can sadly envisage serious accidents in the future. As for blind people, I would say it is a ‘no go zone’.

Photo – Emily with Campaigner Tracey Collins on the Hackbridge Crossing
Photo – Emily with Campaigner Tracey Collins on the Hackbridge Crossing

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