A BLIND Newcastle Emlyn woman has called for changes in the town to make it safer for her and other pedestrians.

Rory Roberts said she had been taking a keen interest in the pedestrianisation project that has been introduced by Ceredigion County Council in Cardigan.

Now she is calling for similar action from Carmarthenshire County Council, which has implemented similar temporary measures in Carmarthen, Llanelli and Ammanford.

“This action has been taken to prevent the spread, as much as possible, of the Covid virus throughout the community. While the holiday season is upon us the population doubles, making social distancing extremely difficult,” said Rory.

“Now, with the changes that have been made, compromises all round and a general feeling of community spirit, we are all safer and free to enjoy the summer in these strange and frightening times.

“I say lucky Cardigan and all other towns made safer under the present schemes.

“Not so for Newcastle Emlyn, which is where I live with my guide dog Nutmeg.

“Nutmeg and I have been unable to work for a considerable period of time. Firstly because of a terrible accident we were involved in and then, as I began to get the confidence to work her again and regain my freedom and independence - bang, Covid arrived.

“Now I hear people returning slowly to a sort of normal but not so for Nutmeg and I and many other pedestrians, disabled or not, in this small market town.

“The pavements in Newcastle Emlyn are far too narrow to allow people to pass safely without stepping into the road, which is exceptionally busy for a small town, with very large vehicles only able to pass by mounting the pavements.

“For any pedestrian it is a potential death trap and something needs to change for the future for everyone - with or without the Covid issue.

“Ideas have been put forward for consideration to Carmarthenshire CC, one of which is to widen the pavements and to single file the traffic over a very short distance in the middle of town.

“I am hoping that with the huge increase of traffic, wheeled and pedestrian, the council will see fit to at least trial an alternative to the present, very dangerous, situation.”

And Rory fears she may still face abuse as she and Nutmeg are unable to socially distance.

She said most people are kind but she had been horrified to learn of another guide dog owner who had been shouted at for queue jumping and not keeping distance in Lampeter.

“Guide dogs are wonderful creatures giving freedom and independence to so many blind and partially sighted people but they are of course limited in what they can do,” said Rory.

“If someone is totally blind, as I am, the world is a very frightening place without having to experience the anger and frustration of others.

“Guide dogs are trained to find entrances to shops etc., they are not trained to find the end of a queue and then to socially distance. They are also not trained to keep a two-metre distance between their owner and others; they are trained to avoid their owners bumping into others.

“It is lovely to meet people when we are out but please don’t lunge at Nutmeg to say hello. She is a very sociable girl and in her enthusiasm could cause a dangerous situation when her concentration is broken.

“Just stop, say hello and ask if you can greet her. I love to get help when possible and I find the community of Newcastle Emlyn extremely helpful but remember I can’t make eye contact with anyone.

“Without this basic but essential communication skill, I can’t indicate that I need help - maybe to find the end of a queue. I can call out but then it seems I just embarrass people as they don’t know who I am talking to. Please just talk to me anyway.

“Many drivers very kindly stop to let me cross the road when there is no crossing. Thank you but no thank you. Guide dogs have been killed or injured by a car overtaking the one who has so kindly stopped.

“The only way to help safely is to stop, turn off the engine -guide dogs are trained not to cross near a running engine - get out of the car and give sighted assistance which will be most welcome and, oh yes, please don’t beep; it just makes us jump out of our skins.

“And finally, but most importantly, please, please don’t park on pavements.

“So, hoorah for Ceredigion. Carmarthenshire please follow in whatever way you can to keep all pedestrians, not just me and Nutmeg, safe.”