The 56 Steps to Darby Road.

You know when sitting next to someone in a coffee shop, sometimes you can get chatting to a complete stranger. It happened to one of our members a few weeks back and now what our stranger said makes a bit more sense to us as other parts of the jigsaw have fallen into place.

We wanna tell you a story.

Our stranger was rather ouraged that KCC, Cllr Matthew Balfour Cabinet Member responsible for Environment & Transport, (Conservative) This is he.

Matthew Balfour

said no to a crossing at the foot of the Darby Steps, on Foord Rd in Folkestone. They run along side the new community venue, Sunflower House in Folkestone. Below

Darby Place Steps

Children – but lets take one, just one who crosses the road to the fifty six steps up to Darby Road, onwards to school, Christ Church CEP Academy Mon -Friday twice a day , ten times a week for forty two weeks of the year resulting in four hundred and twenty crossings in a school year. Now imagine ten children, twenty, thirty or more daily crossing and think how the numbers multiple and rise.

Here in Kent we are loosing more people killed on our roads every year than the Armed Forces lost in an average year of combat in Afghanistan. Our county (KENT) suffers 11% more people killed and seriously injured in road traffic collisions than the average across the country.” Henry Bolton UKIP Police Crime Commisoner Candidate Manifesto.

Our stranger also informed our team member that the area has a high density population of elderly and disabled people living in East Kent Housing properties including 150 residents of sheltered accommodation on both sides of Foord Road and near the fifty six steps to Darby Road. They must be considered too.

KCC’s Duty of Care towards Children:

The duty of care to Children has a lower threshold to jump over

For a defendant (KCC) to be deemed negligent, he must have breached his duty of care towards the plaintiff. (The Child) In order to be deemed as breaching the duty of care, his actions must be proven to fall below the standard of care likely to be taken by the reasonable man. Establishing a breach of duty and ascertaining the standard of care is a complex process.

The mechanism used in the law of tort or delict to determine when a person may be liable. Normally, reasonable foreseeability of physical harm will create a duty, the leading judicial test for a duty of care in England was found in the judgments of Caparo Industries plc v Dickman, in which the House of Lords set out the following three-part test:

  • Harm must be a “reasonably foreseeable” result of the defendant’s conduct;
  • A relationship of “proximity” must exist between the defendant and the claimant;
  • It must be “fair, just and reasonable” to impose liability.

There are 3 types of negligence Lata culpa means gross or wanton fault, or neglect. Levis culpa is common or ordinary negligence, or the absence of reasonable care. Levissima culpa is slight neglect or fault.

What do the numbers says? In KCC’s Road-Casualties-in-Kent-Annual-review-district-review at page 10 of this document it states:

The numbers of killed or seriously injured casualties in Shepway has increased between 2013 (39) and 2015 (54) and the latest figure is above the 2004 – 2008 baseline average (50). Shepway recorded 4 fatalities in 2014, one of which was a child under 16. The number of serious child casualties (5) and slight casualties (27) were both higher than the figures recorded in 2013. Shepway recorded an increase in casualties for every road user in 2013 and 2014, with the largest increase for car occupants, reporting 30 more causalities in 2014 (257)

So the question is: Is it reasonably foreseeable that some form of physical harm may happen to a school child/pupil crossing the road to reach the steps which lead up to Darby Place? If a “reasonable person” thinks so, then this will create a duty.

Are you a reasonable person? What do you think?

Is their Proximity between KCC and the School Child, we believe there is.

Is it fair, just and reasonable to impose a liability on KCC.?We believe so,as every child life is important in Kent and the Country.

So if you believe there is a duty of care, as we do, then a crossing should be put in place, especially when we know the fatalities for children has increased across the Shepway district as KCC’s figures prove.

On December 4 2015, a middle-aged male pedestrian was seriously injured when hit by a car on Foord Road North. He was so badly hurt, an air-ambulance flew him to hospital.  Police are still looking for witnesses.

Finally it is not about the materialisation of the risk of a fatality and/or serious harm happening to a child (or anyone else) crossing Foord Rd to get to the fifty six steps which lead to Darby Place, and onwards to Christchurch School, just the fact that the risk exists is enough for Matthew Balfour to seriously consider putting a zebra crossing there or otherwise KCC might well find they have a possible case of negligence on their hands.

So this goes out to our stranger our team member meet in the coffeshop, we hope it will help you in formulating a response to KCC Cllr Matthew Balfour

If you want to let Mr Balfour know about his and KCC’s duty of care you can do so by contacting him here

KCC Cllrs , Hod Birkby, Frank McKenna, Bob Neaves (all UKIP)and Cllr Martin Whybrow.(Green Party) have been proactive in trying to get a zebra crossing placed opposite the fifty six steps to Darby Road.

Shepwayvox

(none of the above constitutes legal advice.)

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