Idea to replace Sidmouth paving slabs with Bitmac, to reduce trip hazards, supported

The pavements in Fore Street Sidmouth. Ref shs 34 17TI 9754. Picture: Terry Ife

The pavements in Fore Street Sidmouth. Ref shs 34 17TI 9754. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth councillor wants to revisit a discussion over replacing paving slabs with coloured Bitmac to address trip hazards in the town.

Town council chairman Ian Mckenzie-Edwards spoke out about the issue with uneven paving slabs, especially in Fore Street, after a complaint from a resident.

G Clarke contacted the Herald hitting out at Devon County Council (DCC) over the ‘dangerous’ footpaths, claiming they were in an ‘appalling state’.

Some were said to be loose and uneven while others were raised, making walking in the town ‘incredibly dangerous’, especially if you were elderly.

G Clarke said: “They have been in this state of disrepair for the past two years and it is totally unacceptable.

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“They are a serious health hazard and I have personally seen three people have serious falls in Sidmouth streets. I also know a lady who tripped and fell at Christmas, breaking both elbows.”

The High Street, opposite Tesco, and along the road past Potburys were highlighted as being particular problem areas.

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G Clarke also claimed to have seen a lady being treated after a trip on the uneven footpath near the Market Place, opposite the church steps.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, who is responsible for highways at DCC, said: “We have recently replaced the footway slabs adjacent to Tesco with flexible material. The paving opposite is inspected monthly. If the upstanding edge of the paving is greater than 20mm we will repair it at the earliest opportunity.

“The safety of the public has always been our primary concern. Damaged paving can be a trip hazard and a common cause is pavement parking.”

He added pavements were not designed to repeatedly bear the weight of large vehicles and if people continued to park there the slabs became damaged.

Cllr Hughes said to prevent this and further accidents, they had asked businesses and the town council to support replacing all the slabs in the area with Bitmac, a more resilient and flexible surface, which doesn’t crack, or produce hard edges when damaged, reducing the potential for accidents.

“Unfortunately this was not supported,” he said.

Cllr Mckenzie-Edwards said his fellow councillors seemed keen on the idea of replacing the stones with a coloured Bitmac which was more in keeping with the area, rather than the black Bitmac.

He said he hoped to bring the issue up again at the town council to see if they could reopen a discussion with Devon County Council.

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