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Street furniture and bins pose problems for blind people, charity warns.

Byline: Huw Silk Reporter huw.silk@walesonline.co.uk

BLIND and partially sighted people in Cardiff struggle to negotiate some of the city's streets because of inconsiderately placed wheelie bins and other avoidable problems, a charity has warned.

The RNIB says cities across the country need to do more for those with sight problems and the organisation's Emma Sands said a growth in the number of cafes and pubs in Cardiff has had knockon effects for many partially-sighted people here. She added the fact that rubbish is now collected less frequently is also an issue.

"Cardiff, like other cities, is very cluttered with street furniture," she said.

"The cafe culture which the city has brought in to some areas does mean that there are obstacles along the main walk ways, like St Mary Street.

"Rubbish collections are of particular concern - most local authorities in Wales have moved to collections which are once every two weeks or less frequent, and this leads to more rubbish out on bin days, creating bigger obstacles."

Sian Healey, who has a guide dog called Arnie, said she will avoid going out of her Birchgrove home on bin days to try and avoid the hazards they cause. She says problems are also caused by street furniture, untrimmed hedges and people parking on footpaths, as well as tables and chairs outside establishments in the city centre. "One of the main issues in my local area is pavement parking," added the 48-year-old.

"My dog has to take me out on to the road, which is incredibly dangerous. Every time I do that I have to take a deep breath.

"The problems cause us a lot of anxiety and makes a lot of people worried about going outside. Small things for sighted people can become major for those with sight issues."

Nationwide, the RNIB is asking councils to develop a so-called "street charter" alongside blind and partially-sighted people to address issues which can cause problems.

RNIB Cymru director Ceri Jackson said research by the charity found a third of blind and partiallysighted people had injured themselves when walking in their local area and 95% had hit an obstacle.

She added: "This is totally unacceptable and wholly avoidable. People with sight loss want to remain independent.

"If we take into consideration how people with sight loss navigate the streets, we could help tackle one of the biggest barriers faced today by people with sight loss."

Cardiff council's cabinet member for environment, Bob Derbyshire has urged residents to do their bit by keeping pavements hazard-free.

But he also insisted a move to smaller black bins would help negate any problems caused.

"Keeping our pavements free from obstruction is of paramount importance to the council and we believe that smaller black bins will help in that regard," he said.

"The council fully supports the need for residents to be considerate in placing out their waste and recycling on the correct day. People may not fully appreciate the difficulties that incorrectly placed out waste can have on the visually impaired. The enforcement teams work hard to ensure that waste is presented correctly. We also encourage all residents to place their recycling and waste in a sensible location on the pavement on collection day to minimise the obstruction."

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 17, 2015
Words:567
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