Guide Dogs: Survey reveals UK’s streets are a cluttered nightmare

Survey reveals UK's streets are a cluttered nightmare

Camden High Street, London, is the worst offender

Britain's streets are becoming increasingly hazardous for pedestrians according to a new survey of street clutter by Guide Dogs.

Guide Dogs surveyed 65 towns across the UK for obstructions such as A-boards, bins and vehicles parked on pavements, and found that Camden High Street in London was the most cluttered street. There were 109 items getting in pedestrians' way, and Camden was closely followed by Colchester in Essex, then Ballyclare in Northern Ireland in third place.

Top 10 worst towns for overall street clutter

1. Camden, London (109 items)
2. Colchester, Essex (105 items)
3. Ballyclare, Northern Ireland (71 items)
4. Shenfield, Essex (63 items)
5. Leeds, West Yorkshire (56 items)
6. Ashby De La Zouch, Leicestershire (52 items)
7. Worcester, Worcestershire (46 items)
8. Glasgow, Scotland (45 items)
9. Upminster, Greater London (45 items)
10. Brentwood, Essex (38 items)

The survey was conducted to highlight the sheer volume of clutter found on pavements across the UK, which causes a massive problem for blind and partially sighted people, wheelchair users, mobility-impaired pedestrians and parents with pushchairs.

When it came to just A-boards, Colchester topped the chart with a total of 65 A-boards in just one street. One of the main problems with A-boards in all the towns surveyed was the inconsistency of their placement. Some were placed three abreast, forcing pedestrians into the road or creating a slalom which was difficult to manoeuvre through.

Top 10 Most A-board-cluttered High Streets

1. High Street, Colchester, Essex (65 A-boards)
2. Hutton Road, Shenfield, Essex (over 30 A-boards)
3. Friar Gate, Derby (29 A-boards)
4. Camden High Street (Tube to Camden Lock), London (26 A-boards)
5. High Street, Ashby De La Zouch, Leicestershire (24 A-boards)
6. Station Road, Upminster, London (23 A-boards)
7. Addington Road, Selsdon, Greater London (22 A-boards)
8. Quinton Parade, Coventry (22 A-boards)
9. Botanic Avenue – from Queen's University to Shaftesbury Square, Belfast, Northern Ireland (19 A-boards)
10. Gold Street, Kettering, Northamptonshire, (16 A-boards)
=10. Corbets Tey Road, Upminster, London (16 A-boards)

David Cowdrey, Head of Campaigns at Guide Dogs, said: “Street clutter has blighted our pavements for too long and councils need to take action to clean up our streets immediately. A-boards should be positioned consistently along a pavement, leaving an unobstructed pathway for pedestrians.

“We want councils to introduce a licensing system for A-boards, allowing enforcement to reduce clutter and position them so they don't obstruct pavements.”

The report also highlights that wheelie bins, hanging baskets, trees, parked cars, sign posts, bollards and street café furniture also cause major issues on our pavements and contribute to street clutter, making it difficult to navigate the UK’s main high streets.


1.      Street clutter should be positioned along a pavement consistently, leaving an unobstructed pathway for pedestrians.

2.      Where possible a gap of 1.5 metres should be left on the pavement for pedestrians to pass unobstructed.

3.      Businesses should only use A-boards where necessary.

4.      Items of street clutter should always be painted in a boldly contrasting colour or marked with colour-contrasting hazard tape.

5.      Councils should consider introducing licensing for A-boards to ensure appropriate use along high streets.


For more information, contact:

James Kell, Press Officer at Guide Dogs on 0118 983 8192 or email, or David Cowdrey on 0118 983 8304, 07990 540045 or email

Editors notes:

1.      A copy of the survey's executive summary and the Excel spreadsheet are available from James Kell.
2.      The surveys were conducted by Guide Dogs staff and volunteers across the UK in 2012. Only 65 towns were surveyed to provide a snapshot of the clutter on UK streets.
3.      Each survey related to a single high street or shopping street in a location and did not cover every street in the town.
4.      About The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association:

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is a British charitable organisation founded in 1934. Guide Dogs provides independence and freedom to thousands of blind and partially sighted people across the UK through the provision of guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services. It also campaigns passionately for the rights of those with visual impairments. Guide Dogs is working towards a society in which blind and partially sighted people enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.

If you need more information or pictures then please contact me

All the best


David Cowdrey
Campaigns & Communications Manager
Guide Dogs
4th Floor, Walkden House
10 Melton Street,

Telephone:  0118 983 8304
Blackberry:  07990 540045