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Around 1,500 sign petition calling for 20mph zones outside schools in Dartford

Around 1,500 people have signed a petition calling for 20mph zones outside schools as children have been sent to hospital after being run over by speeding drivers.

As previously reported in Kent Online's sister paper the Dartford Messenger the Dartford Safer Roads campaign was launched in May by two primary governors, Sarah Crook and Kelly Grehan.

Concerned residents shared harrowing stories of their children being seriously injured due to careless drivers to promote the campaign at Dartford council last week.

Gracie Maddox at King's hospital on life support following a tragic accident on Fleet Estate, Dartford on June 26, 2017. Picture: Caitlin Webb, Local democracy reporter (4147227)
Gracie Maddox at King's hospital on life support following a tragic accident on Fleet Estate, Dartford on June 26, 2017. Picture: Caitlin Webb, Local democracy reporter (4147227)

Jessica Maddox said her daughter, Gracie, is "lucky to be alive" after she suffered nine broken ribs, a punctured lung and spleen after she was knocked off her bike on the Fleet Estate on June 26 last year.

The 12-year-old was on life support for two weeks with pressure on her brain caused by fractures to her skull.

She spent four months at physical and occupational therapy at King's College Hospital in London and now goes for check ups at Darent Valley every three months.

Despite the trauma, Gracie went back to school part-time at Longfield Academy last Tuesday.

Gracie Maddox who was run over by a car last year. Her in year 7 and year 8 on first day of school. Picture: Caitlin Webb, Local democracy reporter (4147225)
Gracie Maddox who was run over by a car last year. Her in year 7 and year 8 on first day of school. Picture: Caitlin Webb, Local democracy reporter (4147225)

Mrs Maddox, of Fleet Road, said: "Gracie is such a fighter.

"They say people with brain injuries are like the 'walking wounded' because you can't see anything wrong with her but she's a completely different child.

"They put her in an induced coma because she was bleeding all over in her brain so they don't know exactly which parts are affected."

The mother-of-four is concerned her injuries may affect her child's fertility in the future and could lead to early onset Alzheimer's syndrome.

Gracie Maddox at King's hospital on life support following a tragic accident on Fleet Estate, Dartford on June 26, 2017. Picture: Caitlin Webb, Local democracy reporter (4147229)
Gracie Maddox at King's hospital on life support following a tragic accident on Fleet Estate, Dartford on June 26, 2017. Picture: Caitlin Webb, Local democracy reporter (4147229)

She added: "She has thought process delay which does mean she's very confident but it also means it's a lot more dangerous for her to cross the road because she doesn't process the danger in the same way.

"At the end of the day, I don't really care if she's a little different since she's here with us."

The father of Dean Povey, 13, who suffered a number of broken bones after being run over by an alleged drug driver in Henderson Drive on Sunday, September 2, also attended the council meeting.

Speaking on behalf of his parents, Rick Jones said: "The length of that road is diabolical.

"There are no traffic calming measures and that is where people like to speed.

"We've had a number of animals killed in that area and people in near misses now over the weekend we've had a child with broken bones.

"I cannot stress how important it is to look at the safety of roads around schools and this needs to be prioritised."

Cllr Jonathon Hawkes, Kelly Grehan, Sarah Crooke, Jessica Maddox (wearing green shirt, black trousers and black jacket), Cllr Claire Pearce, Cllr Many Garford, Lanette Safo-Wiltshire. Picture: Caitlin Webb, Local democracy reporter (4147223)
Cllr Jonathon Hawkes, Kelly Grehan, Sarah Crooke, Jessica Maddox (wearing green shirt, black trousers and black jacket), Cllr Claire Pearce, Cllr Many Garford, Lanette Safo-Wiltshire. Picture: Caitlin Webb, Local democracy reporter (4147223)

Now these parents and many other residents are calling on the council to put in 20mph zones to ensure children are safe on their way to school.

The author of the petition Sarah Crook called for "tough action" on inconsiderate drivers around primary schools.

Sarah said: "We would like to see some proper enforcement around the school particularly because children don't feel safe on the pavement let alone the roads.

"The children are not the problem, they know how to cross safely, the main problem is out of the children's control mostly parents and people who park inconsiderately.

"Also we want to put in 20mph speed limits around schools because a child is more likely to die if hit at 40mph than at 20."

Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite told the concerned residents they were "pushing at an open door" and claimed a "behavioural shift" is needed to stop the reckless driving.

He said: "I can't imagine what these parents are going through and what it must be like to feel like your child is slipping away from you.

"The day after what happened to Gracie we set up a working group to look into what can be done to stop things like this happening.

"I think we have gone above and beyond what the petition is asking for and nothing is off the agenda.

"I would like to work with all of the residents together because we are all on the same side."

Leader of the Labour group Cllr Jonathon Hawkes said: "I’m pleased the council announced some good intentions in response to the petition – we now need to see actions.

"I and my Labour colleagues will be keeping the pressure up to ensure we see real action to make Dartford’s roads a safer place for everyone.”

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