The MP for Torfaen helped raise awareness of the dangers of pavement parking at Guide Dogs’ (un)fairground

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP spoke with the charity Guide Dogs at the Labour Party conference about the challenges pavement parked cars create for blind and partially sighted people, who may have to risk their safety by walking into the road just to get by.

Mr Thomas-Symonds has championed this cause since his election in 2015, supporting the work of Guide Dogs UK and their members. In 2015, he supported a Private Members’ Bill on the issue in the House of Commons that was dropped the promise that the Government would take action on this matter. They have, to date, failed to do so.

A survey by Guide Dogs showed that 97% of blind or partially sighted people encounter problems with street obstructions, and 90% of those had experienced trouble with a pavement parked car.  Mr Thomas-Symonds also undertook a blindfolded walk around Ponypool to appreciate the scale of the problem himself, and its impact on sight-impaired people.

The MP for Torfaen heard of the difficulties that Councils face in trying to tackle the issue with their current powers, and why Guide Dogs is calling for a clear law on pavement parking.

To illustrate the problem, the charity asked Nick to clear the streets of pavement parked cars against the clock on a specially-themed whack-a-mole game.

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP is supporting Guide Dogs’ campaign to make pavement parking an offence, except in areas where local authorities grant specific exemptions. This would give local authorities real power to properly tackle this problem and bring the rest of the country in line with the current law in Greater London, which has been in place since 1974.  

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP said:

“Inconsiderate parking is a real problem for those living with sight loss and can be a great danger to those in our communities. I am pleased to continue supporting this campaign, as I have done over the last three years.”

James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, commented:

“Cars blocking pavements are a nuisance for everyone, but can be a real danger for people for people with sight loss, potentially forcing them out into the roads to get by. Outside of London, the powers that councils and police have at the moment aren’t sufficient to tackle the problem, and that’s why we want a clear law where drivers cannot park on the pavement unless they’re in a specifically designated area.”

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