A BLACKBURN Pelican crossing has become the first in England with new mobile phone-operated technology to held disabled people activate traffic signals to get over the road safely.

The free Button app allows wheelchair and mobility scooter users, and those with visual impairments, to remotely activate the pedestrian crossing in Longshaw Street, Ewood.

If the new technology, fitted after damage, is a success it will be rolled out across other locations in Blackburn with Darwen by the council.

The Bluetooth technology developed by Edinburgh company Neatebox has been installed at ten places in Scotland, but this is the first time in England.

It aims to help those who may struggle to reach or see the button at a crossing.

Cllr Jamie Groves, the council’s assistant executive member for regeneration and Ewood ward representative, took along his wheelchair-using friend Paul Frankland, from Mill Hill, to try out the new device on Longshaw Street.

Both were delighted with its ease of use and contribution to road safety for those with disabilities.

Road safety campaigners Cllr Jacquie Slater and former borough Liberal Democrat leader David Foster gave the new device a qualified welcome.

Cllr Groves said: “When the Longshaw Street crossing had to be replaced because of damage, we thought that it would be an ideal opportunity to install this innovative technology.

“I took Paul along to trial the device and he was delighted with it. We hope to roll it out as we carry out routine upgrades of other pedestrian crossings.”

Tory adult social care spokeswoman Cllr Slater said: “I shall watch with interest to see how this experiment pans out and whether they do put it on other roads.

“They still need a comprehensive strategy to deal with the borough’s poor road safety record, especially in terms of young people killed or injured.”

Mr Foster said: “This is fine as far as it goes but it does not tackle the major issue of young people being killed or seriously injured on Blackburn and Darwen’s roads.”