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Parents fears over dangerous parking outside schools in Dartford

By Sean McPolin

“What are they waiting for? A death?” is the question being asked by parents who are demanding tougher charges for bad parking near busy schools.

Campaigners from the Road Safety group in Dartford expressed their anger at the number of fines handed out by the council last year.

A total of 126 penalty charges were handed out at schools by the local authority in 2018, with 39 issued by hand and 87 issued by a car mounted with a camera.

Cars have been seen driving on the curb because of the traffic. (7090719)
Cars have been seen driving on the curb because of the traffic. (7090719)

Dartford Primary Academy, in York Road, was the school with the most charges, with drivers receiving 53.

The second closest was Temple Hill Primary, in St Edmunds Road, with 13 followed by Brent Primary, in London Road, with nine.

Jessica Maddox, whose daughter Gracie was left with nine broken ribs, a punctured lung and spleen after being knocked down outside Fleetdown Primary School, in Lunedale Road, almost two years ago, thinks the dangerous parking outside schools could end in more children being hurt.

The 37-year-old said: “Being the mother of a child who has suffered a massive brain injury due to unsafe roads on the Fleet Estate I find it really upsetting and feel extremely let down by the council.

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 (7090809)
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 (7090809)

“One ticket given out at Fleetdown is appalling. I witness bad parking every day and have seen the ticket car come round only a handful of times. What are they waiting for? A death?

“We need change and it needs to happen now to keep our children safe and give them the freedom they deserve.”

Darren Povey, 39, who has been campaigning for safer road measures since his son Dean was hit by a car last year, said: “Cars parked on the zig-zags is a regular occurrence at Temple Hill and naturally I’m disappointed that only 13 tickets have been issued for the whole of 2018.

“One car is really not sufficient to take on the problem in all the schools in the area.”

Dean Povey, 14, was left in hospital after being hit by a car. Picture: Kelly Goldsworth. Contact: kgoldsworthy@hotmail.com (7090819)
Dean Povey, 14, was left in hospital after being hit by a car. Picture: Kelly Goldsworth. Contact: kgoldsworthy@hotmail.com (7090819)

Emma Ben Moussa, whose son Aymane, six, goes to Manor Primary School, in Keary Road, Swanscombe, dreads doing the school run in the morning.

The 31-year-old said: “I walk my son to school everyday and dread it. Cars regularly drive around us on the pavement, only this week a car beeped us to move out of the way so he could drive down the pavement faster. These are the conditions our children go to school in.

“I’m disappointed to see that only four penalties were given out for parking on the zig-zag lines at Manor, but not surprised. Swanscombe is always neglected by the council.”

Dartford council leader Cllr Jeremy Kite (Con) said: “Sadly, dangerous parking behaviour on zig-zag markings is by no means the only issue causing danger to children around schools and the number of tickets we issue are a reflection of particular offences.

“It’s easy to knock parking officers who are trying to deal with the problem but the issue is fundamentally one of drivers who are putting childrens lives at risk.

Parents have complained about the amount of 'bad parking' near schools. (7090728)
Parents have complained about the amount of 'bad parking' near schools. (7090728)

“We have to face up to the unpalatable truth that some of those responsible may include a small minority of parents themselves. We need to make it socially unacceptable to drive or park dangerously around schools.

“The issue of school safety is hugely important and that’s why we are, to my knowledge, the only local council in Kent to have established a group specifically targeting dangerous parking around schools. Just this week, we are bringing forward our proposals asking KCC to implement new safe zones and approve ’20 is plenty’ signage on local routes around schools.

“Some may find cause to criticise the council’s parking officers and that’s fine, but the key to this is changing the dangerous and irresponsible attitude of some drivers who are disturbing local residents and playing roulette with children’s lives.

“It would be very welcome if those at the head of the campaign worked closely with us to find solutions together. They do have a standing invitation to attend our group and it would give them a chance to talk directly to the parking officers, KCC safety specialists, police and schools.

“They might be reassured to see for themselves the steps being taken to protect children and make life better for local residents.”

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