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Just six accidents since Shared Space

Ashford's controversial Shared Space has seen just six accident since it opened - despite fears for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, it was revealed today.

The award-winning scheme was criticised by driver instructors, the blind and, most famously, Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.

The TV personality publicly criticised the £16.5 million project's creators, writing in his column in The Sun: "Someone is going to die, you idiots."

However, statistics obtained from Kent Police under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed there has been just one serious collision on the Shared Space since November 2008.

The figures show there were three accidents in 2009. The first, in which a pedestrian was hit by a car and suffered a broken ankle, happened at the junction between Bank Street and Tufton Street on April 23.

A motorcyclist sustained slight injuries after being knocked from his bike by a vehicle in Forge Lane on June 19.

A cyclist also suffered slight injuries after being hit by a car at the Elwick Road junction with Bank Street on December 14.

In 2010, a driver suffered a slight injury after his white Ford Focus hit a lamppost in Elwick Road on June 1.

There were two further smashes, in which cars were damaged but no injuries were sustained, in Bank Street on December 15 and in West Street on December 26.

The statistics pleased Susan Mansfield, the president of Ashford Access Group, who was one of those consulted regarding the scheme's accessibility for the disabled.

"It's good to hear that is the case," she said. "Everybody did have quite a sharp intake of breath when the plans were announced."

"It's very comforting to think there has only been that number of incidents.

"I'm sure that is better than incidents on the old ring road. I think people seem to have got the hang of it."

Judith Armitt, the managing director for Ashford's Future, said: "We are extremely proud that shared space has succeeded in driving down the number of accidents and cutting traffic speeds around the town centre."

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