Councillors’ “ego has got in the way” of addressing safety fears in Wokingham town centre, according to a concerned resident.

Earlier this month the News reported that the council was looking to hear the views of representatives from accessibility and disability groups regarding the regenerated town centre.

But resident Sarah Kerr has slammed the council for failing to consider the impact of the new town centre on all visually impaired people.

She said: “Blind residents are council tax payers who should not feel they are not safe in a public place.

“They say they have consulted (people who use) guide dogs but I’m waiting on more information about the consultation.

“It is not representative of all visually impaired people.”

Ms Kerr has created a petition that is concerned with the "minimal difference" in the colour between the kerb and the edge of the road in the new town centre, the blister studs at crossings being “barely detectable”, and the failure to use red paving at controlled crossings as “partially sighted people are assisted by strong colour contrasts.”

Other worries raised by the resident include questions as to why the disabled and loading bays are on the pavement area, “which is confusing for most people, let alone the visually impaired.”

Ms Kerr continued: “My view is councillors are public servants and their ego has got in the way, but here ‘let’s look at our lovely Market Place!”

The resident added that she believes the councillors think “aesthetics are more important than safety” and that any consultation on the impact of the newly-designed town centre was a “box check exercise”.

She said: “They are very defensive all the time. But rather than not being defensive, why not actually accept that a mistake has been made?”

A petition has been launched by Ms Kerr to prompt the council into making changes to the multi-million pound town centre, and the document demands pavements are painted a different colour, the studs at the controlled crossings are replaced with more obvious points, kerbs are made stronger and more detectable and more.

The Wokingham resident said: “The most important thing (they can do) is a workshop with people with a range of visual impairments instead of just people with guide dogs.

“They need to actually listen and do it.”

Previous attempts have been made by councillors to help understand the impact of the Market Place on the visually impaired, such as when councillor Julian McGhee-Sumner was led around the town centre blindfolded.

Yet Ms Kerr labelled this effort as “crass.”

Wokingham Borough Council has been contacted for comment.

Cllr Philip Mirfin, executive member for regeneration, said: “During the design of the Market Place improvements, two workshops were held specifically for individuals and organisations representing those with various forms of disability including Guide Dogs for the Blind, learning disabilities group (CLASP), Wokingham Healthwatch and the Alzheimer’s Society. The input from these was crucial in informing the design, for example, it highlighted the importance of retaining controlled crossings for people with visual impairments and these were therefore included.

“The scheme has undergone all the required safety audits to date (which are carried out by independent experts) and no issues have been raised that require immediate action. But we are aware that some people have raised concerns. We are therefore reconvening the accessibility group that looked at the original designs to discuss any modifications necessary.

“There will also be a final safety audit once the current regeneration works at the junction of Peach Street and Broad Street are completed and we will obviously consider this carefully and carry out any work required.”