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Lisburn new kerbs putting lives at risk, blind woman tells court

By Alan Erwin

Published 03/02/2016

Joanna Toner (third from right) and supporters outside the High Court in Belfast
Joanna Toner (third from right) and supporters outside the High Court in Belfast
Joanna Toner and her dog

A blind woman fears being excluded from parts of her city centre due to the height of new kerbs, the High Court has heard.

Counsel for Joanna Toner set out correspondence where she expressed concerns about stepping out and being hit by traffic in Lisburn.

Ms Toner is taking legal action over the 30mm pavement edges, created as part of a major revitalisation scheme.

Her lawyers claim it could pose a safety risk, as guide dogs may fail to recognise the difference in street levels.

Academic research recommending that kerbing should be at least 60mm in height was not properly considered, they allege.

Mrs Toner is seeking a judicial review, by claiming she has been discriminated against on disability grounds.

The multi-million pound public realm scheme is aimed at transforming the main city centre streets.

Work involved creating new paving and kerbs in and around Bow Street and the Market Square areas.

Mrs Toner was in court along with friends and members of the blind community for her legal challenge against the new Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

Part of the case involves claims that she was not made aware of a consultation process around the street revamp.

It is also argued that the scheme breached both the Disability Discrimination Act and Mrs Toner's human rights.

In court yesterday Mrs Toner's barrister, Neasa Murnaghan QC, disclosed correspondence sent by her client to the relevant authorities.

In it, she expresses fears of being hit by a car in the streets with the new kerbing.

Ms Toner states she would be unlikely to venture into an area if she felt there was such a risk.

"I would feel excluded from part of my own city," the court heard.

The case continues.

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