Proud2Be to submit formal bid for rainbow crossing

By Steve Peacock in Local People

Totnes is still on target to become the first town in Europe to sport a Gay Pride icon and celebrate its diversity in the shape of a rainbow road crossing.

The town’s gay group Proud2Be has been holding talks with council officials and councillors for the past two years about installing a multicoloured road crossing in the town centre.

Now the group is planning to submit a formal bid for the crossing to the county council’s local highways committee in March this year, with a site on The Plains as the preferred location.

Proud2Be spokesman Mat Price said that, despite the delays, the crossing – if it gets the go-ahead – would still put Totnes on the international map by becoming the first town in Europe to have such a crossing.

‘We’ll be submitting a proposal to the South Hams Highways and Traffic Orders Committee in March,’ said Mat. ‘We hope to get an answer then.

‘That will give us an idea as to whether we can send them a professional design.’

He said the preferred location for the crossing was at The Plains, but there were also options for one in the town’s High Street, which is where a temporary multicoloured crossing was installed two years ago to coincide with the town’s annual September Pride event organised by Proud2Be.

When the first suggestions of a rainbow crossing was raised two years ago, it received ­immediate support from the town council.

But it also ran into protests from people claiming it would confuse drivers and pedestrians, be an advertisement for the ‘gay lobby’, promote gay acts in the town and trigger crises in dementia sufferers.

Totnes county councillor Robert Vint confirmed that the crossing was still on the cards, even though it has been a year since Proud2Be began talks with the county council about the project following consultations with the town council.

Cllr Vint said there had been some ‘complications’ over the project and that some draft designs that had been drawn up ‘did not look as if they’d get through’.

He pointed out that the main problem was that a rainbow crossing would be neither a courtesy crossing nor an official zebra-style crossing and that there appeared to be no ­regulations to cover it.

‘We still haven’t got any cut-and-dried answers to that yet,’ he said, adding that any rainbow crossing would probably have to include a ‘Stop’ or ‘Give Way’ sign to go with it.

‘There are lots of questions and no clear answers yet and it’s going slowly,’ he said.

Mat, who with his brother Jon launched the Proud2Be gay group representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex/or asexual community, admitted that there had been delays over the project, but pointed out that there has been ‘lots going on’ involving the county council and the town centre streets in Totnes.

On top of that, the Proud2Be Pride event, involving a parade, hundreds of visitors to the town and a day of activities, had taken over a lot of the group’s time.

But he added: ‘We’re still ­really keen for it to go ahead.’

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