MP Mike walks Eastleigh blindfolded

Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton has been finding out what getting around Eastleigh would be like if you were blind or partially sighted.

There many items of street furniture in Eastleigh town centre we take for granted and manage to avoid colliding with without thinking about it but many of these items can be hazardous for blind members of the community.

The MP donned a pair of spectacles which simulated the effects of glaucoma walked around the town guided by Marie Jenkins of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Brian Anderson a partially sighted RNIB Volunteer.

Jenkins and Anderson gave the MP a commentary on the various problems they encountered on their journey.

The RNIB say street obstacles; bollards, advertising boards, bins, and cars parked on pavements are a growing problem preventing many people with sight loss from getting out and about.

While walking about the MP commented on the poor state of the road and pavement surfacing which meant it was difficult to locate the areas of tactile paving which denote the start and finish of road crossing points for blind pedestrians.

Street crossings and ‘shared space’ schemes can be particularly dangerous and while passing by The Holy Cross church the lack of a kerbstone and a clearly definable pedestrian area resulted in Brian Anderson inadvertently straying into the road way and the path of an oncoming car.

“I was completely unaware I was in the road”

confessed Anderson afterwards

“There was no indication or tactile indicator to tell me I was in the road I was concentrating on what Mike and Marie were saying and I just found myself with a car coming up behind me”.

Anderson also said he found the current building work in the precinct to be ‘very disorientating”.

“Councils need to consult with blind and partially sighted people before they redesign the streetscape in towns”

Marie Jenkins said that blind and partially sighted people have a wealth of information to share with councils and councils should be consulting with them making the planning process accessible.

Mike Thornton said:

“There has been a lot things done to try and improve the situation.There has been a genuine attempt by planners to try and help and it needs to be looked at again.

I will be contacting them to say ‘this isn’t as good as it could be’.

We need to get more input from the blind and partially sighted community to help us plan better”.

  7 comments for “MP Mike walks Eastleigh blindfolded

  1. Peter Edwards
    March 3, 2015 at 1:17 am

    As a person who is registered as visually impaired and having been since birth, I cannot help but find this an utter insult. Mike Thornton couldn’t give two hoots about blind people, this is just another one of his silly stunts that will end up in that Focus rubbish!

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      March 3, 2015 at 10:12 am

      It was part of a national campaign organised by RNIB taking out MPs from all parties for a walk around their constituency to help them understand the hazards faced by their partially sighted and blind constituents and to raise awareness generally.

  2. March 3, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    As someone that has recently campaigned to repair a local pedestrian area that he disputed any responsibility, I’m glad that Mr Thornton has taken this incentive to perhaps realise it’s importance.

  3. John Milne
    March 6, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Congratulations Mike for finding a way to walk the streets of Eastleigh in a way that you can deny seeing the broken promises of the Lib Dems to protect the greenfield sites from development.

    I assume all Lib Dems will be adopting these blindfolds. Can I suggest a set of earplugs and a gag to complete the set. See no evil, hear no evil speak no evil.

    • Pianoman
      March 6, 2015 at 8:27 pm

      Speak no evil ? C’mon! BTW, blinkers have been standard issue for ages.

      • John Milne
        March 8, 2015 at 10:54 pm

        You’re quite right, what would they put in the Focus.

        It is also strange to see someone other than Keith House telling him which foot to put in front of the other.

  4. March 7, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    If everybody followed MP Mike Thornton’s lead and went around blindfold in Eastleigh, then the naked rambler Stephen Gough would be able to walk naked in the town without anybody ever seeing that he was naked.

    According to a report by the Metropolitan Police some time ago, it stated that, if nobody sees you naked in public and there is no complaint, then no crime would be committed. So Gough’s indefinite ASBO would be non applicable unless he followed the unusual step of calling the police or media himself which would be silly, but not unheard of in the Naked Rambler’s long history of naked activism in public places.

    In saying all that however, if nobody could see that he was naked, what would be the point of him carrying on his naked quest? None at all.

    See the Naked Rambler’s news website here for more updates:

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