Living Streets charges on consultancy basis

Living Streets, formerly known as the Pedestrians Association, is working with local authorities to make streets safer and more accessible, and charging them for the service as a way of meeting its core costs.

The charity gets stakeholders from different groups - wheelchair users, pregnant mothers, retailers, community policemen - and takes them on walking tours of key routes in urban areas.

Their comments are then fed into reports which advise local authorities on ways to make public spaces safer, cleaner, more accessible and pleasant.

These "community street audits" have developed in response to the DETR's guidance to local authorities to audit and improve walking routes to key destinations such as schools, workplaces, shopping areas and public transport interchanges.

The money from local authority consultancy work has helped Living Streets become more self-sufficient and also directly benefits pedestrians, said Paul Holdsworth, consultancy services manager for Living Streets.

"The funding we get from charitable trusts is usually for specific projects. But because this is our own money, we can allocate it how we wish, and put it toward our core costs. A few years ago we were trying to get local authorities to listen to our message, now they're paying for the message."

The charity has so far completed community street audits in eight areas and plans to build on its consultancy work over the next year.

"Local authorities have given pedestrians' needs a low priority over the years, but now the time is right to get the message out to local authorities that public space really matters,

said Holdsworth.

Actually getting different stakeholders together to walk the streets helped them to compromise on planning requirements, said Holdsworth. "It gets people out from behind their prejudices. You may not see the point of drop kerbs but if you go out with a wheelchair user and see them struggling up the road, you will."

The charity has started presenting itself as Living Streets rather than the Pedestrians Association after market research showed the old name seemed boring and out of date.

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