Fury as council spends nearly £50,000 of taxpayer money on 'rainbow junction'

18 June 2023, 09:36

The rainbow junction was rolled out in February
The rainbow junction was rolled out in February. Picture: Twitter/Hounslow council

By Emma Soteriou

A London council is facing backlash after it was revealed that it spent nearly £50,000 on painting a "rainbow junction" in support of the LGBT community.

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Hounslow Council had four crossings painted in the coloured stripes of the Progressive Pride flag in Chiswick High Road in February.

The cost to roll out the feature came to £48,174, The Telegraph found from a Freedom of Information request.

The moves has sparked fury among disability campaigners, who argue that the money could have instead been spent on safety and accessibility for the visually impaired.

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The National Federation of the Blind of the UK told the paper: "Inclusion must mean inclusion for all, including blind people."

Sarah Gayton, the federation’s shared space coordinator, added: "We’ve got a man in his 80s who has a visual impairment and uses a walking stick – he says that all these different colours really confuse him when he’s walking on the road.

"People are being left confused and distracted when crossing the street, but these councils think they know best and just ignore these widely-expressed concerns.

"You can have flags elsewhere. That money could be spent on much-needed safety and accessibility for blind and visually impaired people."

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The crossing is understood to have taken a year to develop, with a breakdown of costs showing that the rainbow crossing itself was £34,000, a further £9,000 was spent on resurfacing and road markings, £1,900 was spent on traffic management and more than £4,500 went on road safety audits.

The cost exceeds other known rainbow crossings in the UK, even surpassing the £46,000 spent by 20 NHS trusts combined on rainbow crossings in hospital grounds between 2019 and 2021.

Shantanu Rajawat, the leader of Hounslow Council, told the paper: "Important day-to-day services are not impacted by new community initiatives like this.

"Due to our prudent financial management over many years, Hounslow is in a relatively strong position among local authorities and our balanced budget will ensure we will continue to deliver the quality of services and support residents expect and deserve."

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