A POLITICIAN experienced some of the difficulties that people with sight problems face when out and about in Oswestry.

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson donned specially-made equipment in a bid to replicate visual impairment as he negotiated Bailey Street with a guide dog.

Guide Dogs Shropshire invited Mr Paterson to the town to highlight some of the issues faced by people with sight loss when going about their business in town.

Andy Farrell, a community engagement officer with the charity, said: "Mr Paterson has been quite supportive of Guide Gogs before, he attended our Streets Ahead campaign in July in Westminster. It's just showing him what it's like in a real life setting and making him aware of the challenges that they face.

"You can't simulate it in an enclosed environment. We can put sim specs and blindfolds on people to try and replicate what it's like to have a visual impairment, but what you can't simulate is the emotional wellbeing effect that it can have on people.

"When people have to turn round and go home because there's a car parked on their crossing point, that has a real long-lasting effect."

Mr Farrell said that other problems included taxi drivers refusing people with as guide dog, despite not having the required medical exemption certificate.

He added that new buses were required to have audiovisual announcements, but he was unaware of any in Shropshire.

Oswestry resident Linn Stapley, a service user representative for the group and a fundraiser in the town, has had sight problems since birth and told why her guide dog is so helpful.

She said: "Basically, my world is a very blurred one and that's just in my good eye. I can't judge how far away things are and I'm very light-affected, so some days I can see better than others depending on the light - and I do get a lot of pain if I try to strain my eyes to see things."

She added that traders should be considerate of people with sign problems when placing advertising boards on pavements.

Mr Paterson tried on spectacles which give wearers an idea of how people with various vision problems see the world.

He also walked down Bailey Street with a guide dog and stick - alongside Guide Dogs UK demo

He praised Guide Dogs for updating MPs on their activities and said that he would take up the transport issues with Shropshire Council if the charity writes to him.