Outwood Academy pupils “Streets Ahead” of the competition in Guide Dogs banner campaign (5 Sept 2014)

Guide Dogs Poster

Two pupils from Outwood Academy won the "Streets Ahead" Guide Dogs competition to design a banner warning about the dangers of street clutter to blind and visually impaired people.

The competition, which was opened by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls MP and judged by the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson was won by Max Thompson and Jem Hodgins.

Both entries were merged to create the final banner with Max and Jem being presented with the finished product, and a guide dogs puppy toy, at a presentation event at their school on Friday 5th September.

Mark Burns-Williamson judged the entries as part of a visit to Guide Dogs earlier this year. That visit also included Mr Burns-Williamson experiencing first-hand the difficulties faced by the visually impaired when he took a blindfold walk.

With the assistance of Pip the guide dog, Mark took the walk to experience the hazards that blind and visually impaired people encounter every day on public footpaths, especially cars parked on pavements.  The walk highlighted Guide Dog's campaign for safer streets which calls for Government action to strengthen existing legislation on pavement parking. 

Community Engagement Officer for Guide Dogs, Debbie Linford explained "A YouGov survey found that 54% of drivers admit to parking on the pavements, despite the fact that this represents a significant risk to blind and partially sighted people, as well as older people, disabled people, and families with pushchairs.

"Whilst guide dogs are trained to go around pavement hazards and onto the road if necessary, it is very dangerous for both dog and owner, and we are calling for a nationwide law to bring the rest of the country in line with Greater London where pavement parking is prohibited except in areas where it is expressly permitted."

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "I was extremely impressed with the quality of the banners and choosing a winner was no easy task.

"It is a cause for concern that visually impaired people are being forced into the road because of motorists parking on pavements and this banner will go a long way to raising awareness of the issue. Increased awareness will help to tackle the issue with motorists perhaps not always being aware of how their behaviour affects others.
"I will ask the local agencies involved in work in this area to work together with local people, including Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, to ensure that local plans are in place to tackle high priority road safety issues where it is needed, and in the most appropriate way.

"Road safety will be improved by working in partnership and while the police can prosecute some offences, others are within the jurisdiction of local councils and some road safety issues could be better resolved through planning, the use of street furniture, the involvement of the highways authority and the local community. "

The "Streets Ahead" banner will now be distributed to school across West Yorkshire.

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