DISABILITY rights campaigners are calling on Herefordshire Council to dig up and replace Hereford’s infamous Widemarsh Street kerb.

More than 100 people have reported tripping up on the kerb since it was placed in 2011 and residents have been calling on Herefordshire Council to amend the design to avoid more injuries.

Now representatives from National Federation of the Blind of the UK say the kerb cannot be left in place and must be dug up and replaced with higher ones and the carriage way re-laid with a different colour contrast.

Sarah Gayton, NFBUK shared space coordinator, said: “There are many examples where lowered kerbs are proving to be a serious tripping hazard for the public, with people having to go to hospital with broken bones, facial injuries and torn ligaments.

“It is clear that the dangerous kerb in Widemarsh Street cannot be left in place and it needs to be dug up and replaced with higher ones and the carriage way re-laid with a different colour contrast to prevent further trip accidents in the street.

Ms Gayton explained there are several other towns across the UK that have replaced the offending kerb or changed the colour contrast of the carriage way to prevent further tripping accidents occurring.

She added: “Lowering or removing kerbs altogether causes serious navigational problems for blind people, as they are used to keep them from walking into the carriage way.

“Guide dogs will recognise and stop at kerbs which are at least 60 mm high and white cane users can detect this height, but blind people generally prefer traditional standard height kerbs of between 120 to 150mm high, which clearly indicates that this is a pavement area, where vehicles must not drive.

“When you are dealing with a life or death situation, you want to be confident on which side of the road you are on.

“This problem is particularly acute where an attempt has been made to hide the kerb by making it the same or similar colour as the adjoining paving, as in the Widemarsh Street scheme in Hereford.”

Ms Gayton also said local MP and under secretary of state for the Department for Transport Jesse Norman had agreed to meet them to discuss the problems with shared space roads and pavements.

A Herefordshire Council spokesperson explained the Widemarsh Street refurbishment was completed after consulting with many stakeholders including the Royal National College for the Blind and Vision Links.

He said: “Widemarsh street is open to traffic before 10.30am and after 4.30pm but is pedestrianised at other times.

“Given this mix the use of kerbs is appropriate to ensure that footways are defined when the street is open to vehicles but does not exclude shared use of the whole street when the street is closed to vehicles.

“The kerbs used are typically 50mm in height and there is a contrast in colour between the footway and the carriageway to ensure the safety of pedestrians and provide a defined kerb for visually impaired pedestrians during these hours.

“We are aware that there were some trips and falls during the works and for a period afterwards, but these have declined, and we continue to monitor.”