Hoarding on St Albans development forces blind woman to walk into busy road
PUBLISHED: 19:00 13 July 2015
A blind woman was forced to walk onto a busy St Albans road because hoarding placed near a housing development site blocked her usual route and confused her guide dog.
Eighty homes are currently under construction as part of the London Road Project, opposite the Odyssey Cinema, at the junction of Alma Road and London Road on the old Evershed’s site.
But last week, local residents and businesses became concerned at seeing protective boards placed right across the pavement, creating a barrier along the edge of the road with a sign telling pedestrians to cross the busy street.
Andy Eames, proprietor of plumbing shop HBS located opposite the building site, said: “The arrow on the sign points pedestrians to go onto the road. There was a man pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair along the carriageway – as there is no safety barrier there.
“I have seen many pedestrians forced to walk onto London Road because there are no proper markings, and there has been no forethought for people walking on that side of the street when they put the hoarding up.”
Andy added: “This is a farce as they are totally blocking a footpath. A blind lady was walking with her guide dog up the road – she regularly walks up there, and her poor dog didn’t know what to do, because although there was a sign, he couldn’t read it.
“What was the confused dog supposed to do with that poor woman? He didn’t know how to get around the hoarding.
“Someone could be seriously injured.”
St Albans district councillor Chris Brazier, who has been contacted by numerous concerned residents, has complained on their behalf.
In a letter to the district council’s planning team he said: “As you are aware there is a pedestrian crossing by the garage and this makes the crossing useless. My primary concern is that any blind person or people with disabilities using the side of the road in question will be forced onto the road by a façade that should not be crossing a public footpath.
“When residents have contacted the PR of the development company, they have been told ‘we have permission for this’.”
Cllr Brazier added: “I cannot believe we would have given permission for a security board to be built across a footpath forcing people onto a busy road and not included safety measures. This is not a lane, it is the main road into St Albans.”
A spokesman for Spen Hill, a subsidiary of Tesco which is behind the development, said the firm, “takes safety around its development sites very seriously.
“As such we have asked the contractor, Higgins, to work with [Herts county] council to improve safety at these hoardings.
“While they have been approved by the local authority, we have concerns around their safety and have asked for improvements to be made.”