OFFICIALS at Renfrewshire Council have been asked to assess how they can improve the placement and appearance of street furniture to help visually-impaired residents.

Elected member Derek Bibby tabled a motion at the latest council meeting urging bosses to work with the Health and Social Care Partnership, businesses and community organisations to address difficulties faced by those who struggle to see the likes of benches and bollards.

It received unanimous backing from councillors, with officers now set to report back in December on whether any changes could be made to help blind and partially-sighted people better navigate Renfrewshire’s town centres.

Councillor Bibby, who represents Johnstone North and surrounding villages, said there had been an increase in the amount of street furniture over time and the Covid pandemic had resulted in businesses using more outdoor equipment.

“Temporary seating, A-boards, scaffolding and bollards can seem like a slalom course to visually-impaired people,” said the Labour councillor.

“Some prominent features can be seen as positive. Benches are installed for practical reasons and can be seen as part of regeneration, so a balanced approach needs to be taken.

“We don’t want the streets to seem unwelcoming but I think it’s the temporary nature of a lot of street furniture which causes much consternation as, on a daily basis, the configuration of streets can change.”

Councillor Bibby said some street furniture could be brightened to make it more friendly for the visually impaired, while he also suggested a service could be set up for disabled people to report issues.

He added: “Some of the improvements I’d be looking for would be to provide more clarity to businesses, the council and public authorities on their responsibilities.

“I’d also like to see the council explore how its powers can be enforced and perhaps consider setting up a phone number for visually-impaired people to report issues with street furniture.

“If you walk in Paisley, you see a lot of grey structures and they blend into the background. Much brighter environments can be developed.”

Research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People showed more than half of visually-impaired respondents had collided with permanent or temporary street furniture.

The charity is encouraging councils to review their policies in relation to the placement of furniture and to set up accessible ways for the blind and partially sighted to report collisions and injuries.