Floral diversion to keep Seaton walkers safe

Planter scheme will warn people of ‘dangerous’ overhang in busy Harbour Road

Victory is finally in sight for a Seaton pensioner after his year long battle to make safe a busy pavement.

Sidney Pember, 74, launched a campaign to prevent pedestrians injuring themselves on a “dangerous” overhanging bay window in Harbour Road.

He called for urgent action after seeing several walkers bump their heads and warned that visually impaired people could be seriously hurt.

Backed by a petition started by the Seaton and District Visually Impaired Club he took his case to the highways authority – but was told they had no powers to act

County council officials said that because the window had been there a long time it would be “unreasonable and inappropriate” to take enforcement action against the owners. It was also an historic feature in a conservation area.

But now Mr Pember has persuaded the town council to support plans to site a planter there, to steer people away from the overhang.

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They agreed to help after visiting the site, along with Seaton visually impaired resident John Barrington –Rowell who demonstrated the dangers.

Said Mr Pember: “It was agreed that suitable hazard protection must be installed and that a custom-built planter unit should be built, having the same contours as that of the offending window.

“This will provide an immediate indication of the head height obstruction to a visually impaired person as they pass along using their tapping cane and guide them safely past the bay window.

“Also as a decorative feature, it would be more noticeable from a distance when being approached by good-sighted pedestrians thereby capturing their concentration more as they pass nearby.

“Thirdly, a planter unit would greatly enhance the area whilst still retaining the historic formation of the property, at 1 Harbour Road.”

Mr Pember said the plan still needs official approval and funding. But he is confident the highways authority will agree that the scheme is essential to end years of “head banging” by unfortunate victims.

And he points out that in the long run the planter would be cheaper than a claim for damages, with more potential victims likely to be passing by in the coming years – with 200 new homes and a visitor centre planned for further down Harbour Road.