PEDESTRIANISED shopping areas are obstacle courses. Shopper slalom up and down avoiding all manner of impediments , some deliberate , some illegal and some downright dangerous.

A previous council's decision was to remove a main pedestrianised area of "clutter".

This included removing side-street business directory signs paid for by the Bournemouth Chamber of Trade, brick planters with thoughtfully provided bench seating and a modest selection of trees and, strangely, ornamental street lighting.

Deemed as clutter, the sledgehammer was wielded ( leaving one half demolished after it was realised it contained all Old Christchurch Road's electrical junction boxes ). After an Echo letter , this was rebuilt after only five years of broken neglect.

One question that started much of my campaigning began at the end of the last century - A BOARDS!

Fantastic obstacles which cry , "Made you look , made you stare, made you FALL OVER !"

Sometimes as once in Boscombe these trip hazards (ask the Bournemouth Blind Society) can be hundreds of yards from the actual emporium desperate for your custom. Any members of the Chamber placing A Boards 'on the highway' ( allowed on their own curtlidge of course ) were advised to keep a £10,000 bag of cash under the till as that's the normal level of compensation ( for , say , a broken arm ) that the Courts will levy for uninsured illegal obstacles on the pavement which cause an injury. All councils have a duty to keep highways free of such impediments and one local council spent over two years writing such a policy - but never enforced it once.

Councils harvest a respectable income from pavement cafe licenses although some restrateurs succumb to mission creep and they create encampments all but blocking free passage when coupled with serried ranks of A Boards ( the highest of which was measured at five feet ).

One in Wimborne recently stated in bold Dept of Transport red and white format, 'pedestrian diversion', steering them into their shop with humour.

Bournemouth copied Brighton's white direction finding system (despite being told by councillors at the time it was the most unclear format) whilst removing the generic green and gold units installed at no cost to the local authority. Baffling. The former are all but vanished now. As are the latter. As are the shoppers - yet it helps to have Tolkien quoted in Beale place in contrasting tarmac ....."All who wander are not lost"..... I beg to differ, I think they are, many lost forever.

Mind how you go.

Nigel P. Hedges

Granville Place,