Mum's barrier offer given the brush-off
A MOTHER concerned about motorists flouting the pedestrians-only rule in the High Street offered to operate a barrier – but was turned down on health and safety grounds.
Kellie Darke can see the entrance to the part-time pedestrianised zone from her office. Since the barrier was removed a year ago, she has seen countless drivers ignoring the signs – which forbid access to the road between 11am and 3pm – and the recent gas works made the problem worse.
The 39-year-old said: "If a barrier was there, it would make things crystal clear.
"The problem is, they keep changing the rules. When the gas works were on and people couldn't go up Bank Street, they decided to let everyone use the High Street.
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"They put plastic bags over the signs, and when the works were finished they took them off again but didn't tell anyone.
"Now, no one knows what they're doing."
The Herald reported last summer that Tony Ralph, a former police officer, had always operated the barrier, but when he retired it was fixed open. It was later removed altogether by Kent County Council.
But without any obstacle, drivers have continued to use the road during pedestrianised hours.
Mother-of-one Ms Darke said: "It happens all the time. I'll be sitting at work, and suddenly see someone come reversing past really fast because they've been stopped and they're cross.
"It's safety. Bearing in mind the average age in Hythe, there are a lot of people that might not be able to move quickly enough.
"It's not necessarily people being rebellious, I think lots just don't know whether they can drive down here or not.
"I rang all the councils offering to operate a barrier every day, but no one would take responsibility and eventually I was told it was a health and safety issue.
"They said if I hadn't closed it properly and it fell on someone, where would the claim lie?
"If there was a physical barrier there, everyone would know and it would give the elderly and people with children peace of mind. But I gave up then, because obviously no one's going to listen to reason."