Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer calls for decluttering of high street after walking blind through town

MP calls for decluttering of high street after walking blind through town

Mike Freer MP took a blindfolded walk through the town with representatives from charity Guide Dogs

The charity organised the experiment to raise awareness of the issues of street furniture faced by the blind and partially sighted

Guided by the arm of charity worker Mel Kemps, the Tory politician weaved his way through what he described as “an obstacle course” of street furniture

Mr Freer found a number of advertising boards and shop displays apparently breaching trading rules on his visit

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MP Mike Freer has called for a decluttering of Golders Green’s high street after experiencing first hand the dangers faced by the blind and partially sighted.

The Finchley and Golders Green representative took a blindfolded walk through the town this morning with representatives from charity Guide Dogs.

Guided by the arm of charity worker Mel Kemps, the Tory politician weaved his way through what he described as “an obstacle course” of bus shelters, road works, sign posts, and advertising boards.

The charity organised the experiment to raise awareness of the issues of street furniture faced by the blind and partially sighted on a daily basis across London.

Speaking after the walk, Mr Freer said: “Without my guide I would have been terrified. It was a very disconcerting experience and you are constantly on your guard.

“You may get used to the pavement and your surroundings over time but you can’t get used to things like the advertising boards, which are constantly moved. It was an obstacle course.”

Guide dog user of 37 years Dave Kent accompanied Mr Freer on the walk along, and says street clutter is a major problem for even the most confident of visually impaired people.

He said: “There are howling inconsistencies in the implementation of street design. It is a drum that we constantly have to keep banging.

“We want to highlight the issues and give people a sense of what it would be like to walk down the street blind.”

Cabinet member for environment, Councillor Dean Cohen, walked with the former Barnet Council leader to see for himself the problems street clutter can present.

Mr Freer found a number of advertising boards and shop displays apparently breaching trading rules on his visit, and he pledged to take the matter to City Hall to increase awareness among local authorities.

He said: “I will be speaking to (London Mayor) Boris Johnson about this issue and I want to make utility companies and authorities realise the implications these obstacles have.”

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