I am absolutely delighted that NCC have seen sense and decided not to go ahead with this scheme. The campaign was a true example of teamwork between local councillors, residents and disability groups. Thanks to all who supported us.
Setting aside the waste of £280,000 of Northumberland council tax payers’ money to change a road only resurfaced in September 2014, which has speed ramps, I am convinced that ‘Shared Space’ does not work anywhere.
You cannot take away kerbs and controlled crossings needed by guide dog owners and other pedestrians and expect them to cross safely simply by making eye contact with drivers, who have no legal obligation to stop for them. Equality Access campaigner Sarah Gayton tells me that there have been 5 deaths on shared space schemes in Britain and 11 schemes U turned.
Sarah hopes to see the whole idea of shared space completely discredited after the UK government’s Women and Equalities Committee Enquiry into shared space (now ongoing) and an investigation by the United Nations Equalities and Human Rights Commission into UK compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Disabled in 2017, for which she is currently gathering evidence against shared space.
I have asked NCC to halt ALL shared space schemes in Northumberland until these enquiries are complete.
A pot of £1.6M of Northumberland council tax payers’ money was allocated to trial 5 shared space schemes; Shields Rd Morpeth (now cancelled), Narrowgate Alnwick, Bamburgh, Market Place Corbridge and Waterloo Rd Blyth. Of these, I am told that Bamburgh is more about traffic calming and improved car parking and Corbridge and Blyth aren’t being taken forward at the moment.
That leaves Alnwick, which is at a very early stage and there are no plans yet. I have already heard from an Alnwick town councillor who is very concerned about what the eventual scheme may mean for equality access there. I hope they can learn from Morpeth’s experience.