Northampton group calling for change this ‘Cut the Clutter’ week

“West Northamptonshire Council needs to treat pavements with the same respect as roads”

Friday, 15th July 2022, 8:31 am

The national Living Streets campaign, which has a group in Northampton, is calling on councils to take action to clear pavements of poorly placed bins and excessive signage, which make it difficult for people to make their journeys.

The charity founded #CutTheClutter week, which runs from July 11 to 17, to encourage authorities to take action and make the streets more accessible to all.

Living Streets Northampton, which was set up in 2020, is supporting the campaign and calling for action from West Northamptonshire Council(WNC).

The national Living Streets campaign is calling on councils to take action to clear pavements of poorly placed bins and excessive signage, which make it difficult for people to make their journeys - including those in wheelchairs.

John Crick who has volunteered for Living Streets Northampton since the start said: “The council needs to treat pavements with the same respect as roads.

“The roads are kept very clear and pavements clearly aren’t - they’re misused in all sorts of ways.”

The campaign encourages banning advertising boards on the pavement, putting plans and funds in place to remove excess or unused street furniture, and provide guidance on maintaining at least 1.5 metre pavement widths.

New YouGov research found more than one in four Brits – 26 percent - would want to walk more if the streets were clutter-free.

It also revealed the most common things blocking the pavements, as reported by the respondents, are cars (56 percent), bins (41 percent), and lampposts and signs (17 percent).

This prevents people with wheelchairs, buggies or guide dogs, among others, from getting around safely.

John said: “It must be really stressful for those who use wheelchairs, pushchairs and scooters, or have other disabilities, to tackle the obstacles they face when they leave the house.

“Someone needs to check if the paths are clear because if they aren’t, they may decide to take the car and that’s bad for all of us.”

Stephen Edwards chief executive of Living Streets added: “Street clutter clogs up our pavements and makes it hazardous for people to get around.

“It forces some people onto the road and into the path of oncoming traffic.

“We want councils to take action on these issues to make our streets accessible to all. In return, our streets will become safer, our communities more active, and the air cleaner.”

The campaign is being supported by Guide Dogs, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), and Transport for All.

John says there needs to be infrastructures in place on roads in Northampton for bikes and scooters so people refrain from using them on paths, putting others at risk, and deterring them from walking.

He said: “West Northamptonshire Council made a bid of £1.3 million to build a cycle route around Billing Road, Park Avenue and Wellingborough Road in 2020.

“They still haven’t spent or made plans for how they’re going to use the money.”

Stuart Timmiss WNC’s executive director of Place, said: “We welcome any campaign which improves public spaces, but as a council our efforts to improve safety for all users of the public highways continue all year round. All users of the public highway are treated equally, whether you use a pavement or a road.

“Anyone with specific concerns regarding obstructions on the public highways can report them via streetdoctor system through which they are investigated, tracked and any action taken is reported back to the resident.

"Proposals for a cycle route to the east of the town centre are in development alongside plans to improve the junction between Billing Road and Rushmere Road.”