Taking on the Bullring challenge

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The deputy leader of Wakefield Council was left shaken after taking a blindfolded walk with a guide dog through the Bullring in Wakefield city centre.

Coun Denise Jeffery was taking part in the walk with Coun Maureen Cummings and members of the Guide Dog mobility team, to try to understand the problems facing people with sight loss.

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Denise Jefferies with Helen Plunkett (A mobility instructor) and Pip

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Denise Jefferies with Helen Plunkett (A mobility instructor) and Pip

But her guide dog, Pip the labrador, walked her straight out into on-coming traffic.

Coun Jeffery said: “The experience made me feel extremely vulnerable.

“Pip the guide dog couldn’t feel the difference between the pavement and the road and he walked me straight out into the road.

“I never realised before but because of all the traffic noise and the noise coming from the fountain, which distracts the dogs, I couldn’t hear the warning coming from the pedestrian crossing.

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Denise Jefferies with Helen Plunkett (A mobility instructor) and Pip

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Denise Jefferies with Helen Plunkett (A mobility instructor) and Pip

“We want to make the city more user friendly for those with visual impairments and we are planning to take small steps to rectify this.”

The charity Guide Dogs say that since the Bullring became pedestrianised it has become a no go area for people with visual impairments.

And that the layout causes confusion. Debbie Linford, community engagement officer for Guide Dogs, said: “The pedestrianisation of the Bullring area has unfortunately posed several problems for people with sight loss as there is no clear definition of where the pavement ends and the road starts.

“This has resulted in the Bullring becoming a no go area for them.

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Denise Jefferies with Helen Plunkett (A mobility instructor) and Pip

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Denise Jefferies with Helen Plunkett (A mobility instructor) and Pip

“We wanted the councillors to see this for themselves and hopefully do something about it so that blind and visually impaired people can go about their daily lives just like everyone else.”

Coun Peter Box, leader of the council said they were looking into what changes could be made and that the council would seek advice from Guide Dogs during other developments.

The Express reported that safety concerns were first raised by Coun Jeffery when the £3.5m refurbishment was unveiled in 2010.

At the time she described the new Bullring as dangerous and dull.

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Denise Jefferies with Helen Plunkett (A mobility instructor) and Pip

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Denise Jefferies with Helen Plunkett (A mobility instructor) and Pip

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Eic Smith with Charlie and Debbie Linford (an engagement officer)

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Eic Smith with Charlie and Debbie Linford (an engagement officer)

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Eric Smith with Charlie and Debbie Linford (an engagement officer)

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Eric Smith with Charlie and Debbie Linford (an engagement officer)

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Maureen Cummings with Helen Plunkett (a mobility instructor)

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Maureen Cummings with Helen Plunkett (a mobility instructor)

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Maureen Cummings with Helen Plunkett (a mobility instructor)

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Maureen Cummings with Helen Plunkett (a mobility instructor)

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Anne Bennett with Stevie

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Anne Bennett with Stevie

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Eic Smith with Charlie, Peter Box, Anne Bennett with Stevie, Maureen Cummings, Denise Jefferies with  Pip

Coun Maureen Cummings and Denise Jefferies finding out the problems facing blind and partially sighted people in the Bull Ring, Wakefield'Eic Smith with Charlie, Peter Box, Anne Bennett with Stevie, Maureen Cummings, Denise Jefferies with Pip