Islington’s blind and disabled to benefit from TfL’s “A board” crack-down

Elizabeth Jones walks towards the adverts

Elizabeth Jones walks towards the adverts - Credit: Archant

Blind, disabled and elderly residents will find it easier to navigate the borough’s high streets as TfL is set to come down hard on advertising boards.

An "A board" on Upper Street which is set to become a "zero tolerance zone"

An "A board" on Upper Street which is set to become a "zero tolerance zone" - Credit: Archant

Businesses using “A boards”, which are difficult to navigate and pose tripping hazards to blind or visually impaired people, will see their boards confiscated and could face penalty charges for repeat offending.

Legislation was already in place but policing will be stepped up with “zero-tolerance zones” created in Upper Street and Holloway Road as well as 16 other London high streets.

The areas will be patrolled by transport PCSOs following a successful trial which took place in Hackney and Southwark and saw a 77 per cent reduction in the number of boards in six months.

Lianna Etkind, from charity Transport for All, said: “Street clutter is not just a problem for wheelchair users but a problem for visually impaired people, scooter users, buggy users and older people too.

“We welcome this ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to businesses which repeatedly flout rules on keeping the pavement clear.

“Not everyone can step down into the road to bypass an A-board or other obstacle.

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“We would like to see councils follow TfL’s example and take a much tougher approach to enforcing clear footways, so that disabled and older people are able to use their local high street with the same freedom and independence as everyone else.”

TfL have said that penalty notices will be a “last resort” and that the list of “zero-tolerance” areas would be regularly reviewed.

Elizabeth Jones, an 86-year-old blind campaigner over road safety, was at the centre of a successful campaign to have large hazardous advertising boards from the Archway end of Holloway road moved in 2011.

She said the move was a step forward but that there were still several other obstacles.

“I’ve tripped over and walked into those boards countless times,” she said, “but there are also rubbish bags, boxes, tables, trees and bushes.

“It’s quite bizarre when you’re walking along and it’s dusk and you’re trying to walk and find the bus stop.

“Even people with guide dogs have problems because the dogs go one way and they go the other and they get tangled up.”