Galloway’s helps blind people use Preston’s shared-space

New layout: The shared space area in Fishergate, Preston and, inset, Nia Coleman from Galloway's Society for the Blind

New layout: The shared space area in Fishergate, Preston and, inset, Nia Coleman from Galloway's Society for the Blind

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VISUALLY impaired people struggling to use the new ‘shared space’ in Preston are being offered training and support.

Preston-based sight loss charity Galloway’s Society for the Blind has teamed up with Lancashire County Council to hold a drop in event for people who may be facing problems using the new layout.

The £3.4m shared-space scheme in the heart of the city has seen dramatic changes in recent months.

The design has reduced the markings separating vehicles and pedestrians and has seen wider pavements and a minimum kerb edge introduced and no controlled crossing points.

The project aimed to make Preston’s main shopping street more attractive and accessible but received mixed reviews from motorists and shoppers in the early days,

The charity said because it is keen about promoting independence it wants to give orientation support to people who may have been left anxious about accessing the city centre due to the unfamiliarity of the new layout.

Nia Coleman, vision services coordinator from Galloway’s Society for the Blind explained: “The support available aims to increase confidence for visually impaired people accessing the city centre, ensuring that they can continue to live an independent life and engage with society.”

“Galloway’s aims to promote independence and minimise the effects of reduced vision so we are delighted to be involved.”

Back in September the Evening Post reported that the revamp had been branded a ‘death trap’ for the blind and visually impaired.

Blind people told us that without traditional kerbs and pedestrian crossings they have no way of knowing where or when they can cross safely.

The next stage of the Fishergate Project started on Monday, and will see the work from the Cheapside junction to Cannon Street, as well as working on the top end of Guildhall Street, got underway.

Work will be ongoing until November when the entire stretch from Cheapside to Winckley Street will be completed.

Works will resume after the Christmas shopping period in January 2016 with completion of the stretch from the Cheapside junction to the Minster.

The orientation session hosted by Galloway’s will take place on Friday March 6 from noon until 3pm at County Hall.

It is a drop in event and a chance for visually impaired people who need support accessing the city centre or want to provide feedback on the scheme.

For more information call Nia Coleman on 01524 414846 or email nia.coleman@galloways.org.uk