Milton Keynes Council ‘loses direction’ over Wayfinding signs

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The council has been accused of losing its way after installing £173,000 of new Wayfinder signs at Central Milton Keynes.

For some of the signs are steering people to places that no longer exist.

One directs people to the Leisure Plaza, which was demolished three years ago to make way for Morrisons supermarket.

Another refers to The Buszy, which closed down in January

This week the council’s Director of Place Duncan Sharkey (pictured) admitted the list of places to be signposted was based on consultations that took place TEN YEARS ago.

He told town councillors most of the signs were identified in 2006 as part of the ‘CMK Wayfinding and Signing Strategy’.

They were to help people “orientate themselves” rather than provide an exhaustive list of destinations, he said.

Now city campaigning group Xplain has accused the council of wasting valuable cash during the budget crisis.

“Instead of helping pedestrians find their way around CMK the new signs are likely to drive visitors to distraction!” said Xplain founder Linda Inoki.

“Nobody disputes the need for better wayfinding but whoever decided to clutter up the public footpaths with random and inaccurate signs like this has a lot of explaining to do.”

One sign, by the porte cochere between thecentre:mk and Food Centre, makes no mention of nearby Xscape, which is one of the area’s biggest features, said Linda.

Another directs walkers on to busy Marlborough Gate, ignoring nearby public footpaths nearby.

Linda is also concerned that the slender steel poles on which the signs are mounted could be a hazard for visually impaired people.

Padma Cheriyon from RNIB in Milton Keynes said stainless steel is the worst possible material for visually impaired people to spot.

She told the Citizen: “What annoys me is only last year a council representaive came to our Physical Disabilities and Sensory Impairment Consultation Group and promised to consult us before any signage or construction is planned in Central Milton Keynes.

“He has totally ignored his promise before putting up the hazardous signs in steel, a colour that is complete no no to the visually impaired. The location of these posts is an hazardous impediment not only to the visually impaired, but also to people with mobility issues and those using mobility scooters/wheelchairs.”

MK council came under public fire for employing Duncan Sharkey in the new £100,000 plus post of Director of Place last year.

The council defended his role and it is now defending the new signs.

A spokesman said the signs were planned a “number of years” ago and designed to be updated if required.

“Early in the process we engaged many consultees, but with the passage of time it is perhaps unsurprising that some of the original detail has been forgotten.”

He said the council was aware of concerns from visually impaired people and may make adaptations if necessary.