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Friend in Need charity director calling for common sense in Barnet Council's crossing review
A charity director is calling on Barnet Council to listen to the needs of elderly and disabled residents during its review of the borough’s pelican crossings.
The authority is in the process of assessing all of Barnet’s automated crossings with a view to removing any it can to save maintenance cash and improve traffic flow.
Some charities have raised concerns that removal of any signals could be a disaster for more vulnerable members of society, who rely on the ability to cross the road safely.
John Wilks, director of the Friend in Need community centre in East Barnet, is urging the council to fully consider the full spectrum of pedestrians before taking any decisions.
He said: “Reviewing is one thing but taking away is completely another. It is these changes that can make a difference to people’s lives. It wouldn’t be sensible - you’re taking away someone’s ability to cross the road.
“Many of those using our centre are elderly or infirm and it is these groups that will be most affected. If you’re going to live a fulfilling life into your old age you need to get around.”
Last month, Age UK Barnet chairman Julia Hines labelled the plans, proposed by cabinet member Councillor Brian Coleman, as “unsafe”.
An online petition opposing the review, approved by Barnet Council’s cabinet committee on February 20, has gathered nearly 400 signatures.
Opponents to the scheme believe the authority is placing the needs of motorists ahead of pedestrians and dozens of community figures, including head teachers and charity leaders, signed an open letter to Cllr Coleman urging him to reconsider the plans last month.
When contacted by the Times Series on Wednesday, the Totteridge representative hung up the phone.
Cabinet papers, however, reveal that the council plans to first identify possible locations for crossing removal before carrying out consultations and impact assessments in each case.
Council officers will identify which crossings, if any, will be removed, though a final decision is not expected for some months.
Mr Wilks recently wrote to the authority on behalf of his charity, which meets at East Barnet Baptist Church, in Crescent Road, and says he hopes his views will be heard.
He added: “We will see what form this review takes but I remain hopeful that common sense will prevail and the council will retain the borough’s crossings.”