Pavements are for people

As the City of London becomes the latest place to issue restrictions on the use of A-boards on pavements, are we witnessing a quiet revolution on our footways?

Here's our Engagement Manager, Aisha.

Kathryn Shaw

Living Streets has been campaigning for much of its 90 years to keep pavements clear and safe. And it's not just about pavement parking.

Councils have a legal duty to keep pavements clear of obstructions. It's just that they often turn a blind eye to advertising boards (or A-boards) and other pieces of street furniture.

Things that we have become accustomed to - but which often cause unnecessary obstruction.

We know from our partnership work with disability groups and from listening to our supporters that this is a crucial issue to get right.

Given all of this, we were delighted to find out that the City of London has introduced a ban on A-boards on pavements. In fact we were surprised to discover that this step was taken in May without much in the way of fanfare.

It has taken us a few years for the City of London to adopt this policy, but it will benefit the hundreds of thousands who live, work and visit the City every day.

Living Streets' London Manager Kathe Jacobs told me "The enjoyment and benefit that comes from walking around attractive streets does not include negotiating A-boards which is particularly tricky for those with mobility issues or young children."

And as Kathe adds, we want to see other boroughs across the capital follow suit.

The enjoyment and benefit that comes from walking around attractive streets does not include negotiating A-boards.

Kathe Jacobs, Living Streets London Manager

Of course, it was arguably Edinburgh City Council that took a lead on A-boards when it announced a city-wide ban which will come into effect this autumn.

And as some of you will know already, this was in part due to continued pressure and campaigning persistence of our Edinburgh Living Streets Group.

"Most businesses appear to have accepted the ban positively," says David Hunter of our Edinburgh group, with reference to concerns that removing A-boards could contribute to the pressures on high streets.

As he says, businesses in Edinburgh recognise that "cluttered, narrow pavements are not an attractive environment for potential customers."

Cluttered, narrow pavements are not an attractive environment for potential customers.

David Hunter, Living Streets Edinburgh Group

These are encouraging signals, especially because it is two capital cities setting the pace.

What we now hope is that other councils will see the benefits and follow Edinburgh, the City and the handful of councils that undertake this legal duty as they should.

Our Pavements For People action packs put the power in the hands of people across the UK to take action locally by calling on councils to address the nuisance that street clutter causes.