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Safety improvements on London Road, Nothfleet

By Ed McConnell

London Road in Northfleet has been dogged by critical incidents, and the death of 88-year-old Sifa Rifat last year – as she walked from her home in the sheltered housing block Cleveland House to the bus stop opposite – was seen by one woman as the final straw.

Her friend and carer Pakize Guvenc launched a petition to improve road safety and amassed about 1,500 signatures and was presented at a Gravesham Joint Transportation Board (JTB) meeting by Northfleet North councillor Peter Scollard (Lab).

Locals are pleased to have a pedestrian crossing installed on this notorious stretch of London Road

Locals are pleased to have a pedestrian crossing installed on this notorious stretch of London Road

The issue was then taken to Kent County Council (KCC) and plans for the new crossing were agreed.

Cllr Scollard said: “It makes it a lot easier to cross the road and the residents are very happy with it.”

Cllr Scollard is also hoping to see the speed limit on this stretch of the road reduced from 40mph to 30mph, and said he had the support of Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott.

“There is a JTB meeting in November so hopefully there is some progress there,” he added.

Ms Guvenc, still mourning the loss of the woman she saw as a grandmother figure, will attend the meeting and has called on KCC to commit to improving safety in the road with measures such as lowering the speed limit.

London Road speed limits change from 30mph to 40mph for a half-mile stretch – immediately after a sharp bend and on the approach to the brow of a hill.

Sifa Rifat died in London Road, Northfleet

Sifa Rifat died in London Road, Northfleet

Ms Guvenc felt the crossing would only do so much to prevent more accidents. “There are so many dangerous drivers around,” she said.

“I hope KCC listens to the residents one more time. I think about the children, the elderly – I don’t know why KCC can’t think about them in the same way.

“We can make such a difference here if we get a new speed limit in London Road.”

At a Gravesham council meeting on Monday the cabinet was told the prospect of lowering the speed limit on London Road and Overcliffe was raised at a Joint Transportation Board meeting with KCC.

The authority was told by KCC's highways department that this would not be possible.

Driver Damian Demczuk, 27, was jailed for two years last December after admitting causing Sifa Rifat’s death by careless driving. Demczuk was unfit to drive because of drug use and was not insured.

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