Earlier this year, Manchester city council declared ambitions to become a pedestrian paradise. “Pavements and public spaces will be high quality, well maintained, green and accessible – catering for everyone, no matter what their age or mobility,” proclaimed the town hall.
Yet this autumn, 86 mysterious grey boxes appeared on pavements across the city that seemed to do the exact opposite. Measuring more than a metre across, the metal monoliths obstruct the footway, failing what transport engineers call “the double buggy test”, while upsetting wheelchair users and aesthetes alike.
Mancunians were unusually unanimous: they hated the boxes. They were not placated when the council stuck labels on them explaining that they were temporary features “as part of the installation of upgraded digital advertising displays.” The boxes, apparently, were covers to protect the wiring as the new hoardings were hooked up to the mains.
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