I was amazed to read the comments of the inevitable 'Rhondda Cynon Taf council spokesman' in the Pontypridd Observer article about the number of falls in Pontypridd town centre. I say inevitable because we only ever hear from the Cabinet Members responsible when the story is a good news one. When there is a problem they seem to develop a sudden aversion to publicity.
'He' stated that "some areas in the town do require a kerb to ensure services such as buses and deliveries to shops can continue to be provided." What absolute nonsense. The problem is that these trip hazards are not proper kerbs and far from protecting pedestrians they are a major safety risk.
Way back in July 2011 when the paving was first being laid I started receiving complaints from various people about the small lips in the surface in Mill Street. When I asked the Director what the purpose was he said it was to delineate the area between 'road' and 'pavement.' I quote
"It is extremely difficult in a shared surface scheme to achieve an ideal solution for all users. For example it is recognised that the absence of an upstand is essential for people using wheelchairs but is potentially hazardous to visually impaired pedestrians who rely on a kerb upstand as a warning that they have reached the edge of the footway."
Not altogether satisfied with this I consulted with contacts of mine at Scope, Guide Dogs Association and RNIB Cymru and the feedback I received was far different. The raised 25mm 'upstand' as the Director referred to it was a hazard to wheelchair users and not enough of a kerb to help the visually impaired. It was obviously also causing a trip hazard for non-disabled users I asked if an equality impact assessment had been carried out but was met with a deafening silence. It seems RCT Council's idea of equality was to equally disadvantage all.
The Mill Street stretch was dug up and re-laid without the lip. Yet they then proceeded to put this elsewhere throughout the town. The inevitable results were plainly seen on the face of the poor lady who featured on the front page of the Pontypridd Observer last week.
We keep hearing about the £10.5m spent on the regeneration - in my opinion and that of many people I have spoken to it is a somewhat shoddy job when it results in accidents such as this on a regular basis. The Council - Directors , Cabinet Members and anonymous spokesmen should get together and sort it out rather than make excuses.
Cllr Mike Powell
Welsh Liberal Democrat, Trallwn