Blind woman criticises Eastbourne cube installation

A blind woman has slammed the county and borough council’s grey cube installation in Eastbourne town centre, saying “it feels like deliberate discrimination”.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 12:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 4:29 pm
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Justine McKellar, 50, from St Leonards, visited the town centre for a day of shopping with her husband Ernest when she was alerted to the “dangerous” cubes by a shopkeeper.

The cubes were recently fitted as part of a joint scheme by the county and borough council to guide vehicles through Terminus Road towards Cornfield Road - and they can also be used as seats, according to the construction company involved in the works.

Mrs McKellar, who uses a long white cane, said, “I was flabbergasted. It feels like deliberate discrimination to me. You just do not put grey things with grey things, they become invisible.

“When I spotted them I said to my husband ‘there they are’. I was in shock, disbelief, horror. They are a deliberate, dangerous structure.”

Justine was registered blind 20 years ago after she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, and she describes her blindness as “tunnel vision”, particularly struggling to see in the dark.

She said, “I should feel safe walking on a pavement. It feels personal. It is like they don’t want me there. There is no purpose for the cubes. When councils make decisions like that they are not supporting us. Something needs to be done.”

Justine said she has reported the cubes as a trip hazard and has pointed to buses as a good example for disability friendly apparatus, saying the colours are easy to see as they contrast.

A spokesman for East Sussex County Council and Eastbourne Borough Council said, “The cubes, which were specifically requested by the Eastbourne Town Centre Steering Group, comply with all relevant safety standards and have been installed to guide vehicles in Terminus Road towards Cornfield Road, performing a function previously done by planters and bollards on the same stretch of road.

“The Eastbourne Town Centre Improvement Scheme was subject to an independent safety audit as part of the design process and will be audited again when the scheme is completed, which is standard procedure for schemes of this nature.

“At that point we will address any issues raised or recommendations made. In the meantime we are very closely monitoring the impact of the scheme and how people are using the new layout, including the cubes.”