Larne pensioner’s town centre fall sparks safety fears

Earl Carmichael pictured at the spot where his sister fell at Broadway, which has since been tarmaced by the local authority.  INLT 34-687-CON
Earl Carmichael pictured at the spot where his sister fell at Broadway, which has since been tarmaced by the local authority. INLT 34-687-CON

Safety concerns have been raised over the newly-redeveloped Broadway in Larne, after a pensioner fell and suffered serious injuries.

The town centre location has received a complete facelift thanks to an ongoing £2.2m public realm scheme, which has seen the area transformed into an open space

But not everyone is pleased with the outcome, as a number of shoppers have warned the new layout poses a danger to pedestrians.

This was evidenced last Thursday when 74-year-old Margaret Carmichael sustained head injuries and two broken arms as a result of a fall.

Margaret’s brother Earl, who was with her at the time of the accident, said his sister had been sent clattering to the ground after tripping over a low step.

“The step is only a few inches high and is very easy to miss,” he added. “There are no railings to hold on to, so once she lost her footing she went over with a real clatter.

“At the very least there should be a yellow line across that step to draw people’s attention to it.”

Earl also blamed the new paving stones the council has installed at Broadway, claiming they can easily dazzle pedestrians by reflecting sunlight.

Unfortunately Margaret’s story is not unique, and the local authority confirmed it has received reports of three people falling at Broadway.

A number of pedestrians also told the Times they had almost suffered a fall at the same location.

Following Margaret’s accident, the council put in place short-term measures to highlight the change in level at Broadway, including a temporary tarmac slope.

A council spokesperson said the open space area at Broadway had designed to take account of the change of level adjacent to Point Street, adding: “There is a ramped area as well as an area adjacent to the loading bay where one step was required.

“This step is highlighted by dark contrast bands of stone to bring attention to the change of level.

“The project team is working in conjunction with the Department for Infrastructure/Transport NI to design and implement measures to address this issue.”