Lorry drives into children’s play park after missing no HGV signs

The damage it's reported the lorry left near the Ebbsfleet playpark
-Credit: (Image: LDRS)

A large lorry reversed into a fence in front of picnickers after managing to get stuck in a park next to a children’s play area. The incident, captured on camera, showed the HGV attempting to but failing to leave the green space near Ebbsfleet United’s Kuflink Stadium.

Disgruntled residents in Swanscombe and Northfleet have long complained of “confused foreign lorry drivers” misreading diversion signs and crashing into walls and parked cars as part of a diversion route put in place along the A228 Galley Hill Road. The busy main thoroughfare has been closed since a parcel of land between Swanscombe High Street and the football ground collapsed on April 10 last year.

But the traffic chaos kicked up a gear this week in an episode which left some locals calling for the driver to be prosecuted. On Tuesday (June 26) just after 2pm, caretaker of Phoenix Parc, Cipriamo Prodan observed a hulking vehicle on a green space directly next to a children’s play park.

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After filming the event through a window, he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “It was a surprise to see the lorry. I was scared actually because I thought of how many kids are going to be here.

“Luckily because the weather is hot the kids were inside,” he explained.

The skidmark left by the lorry near the Ebbsfleet playpark
The skidmark left by the lorry near the Ebbsfleet playpark -Credit:LDRS

Camera footage shows the lost lorry attempt to navigate its way around a green space right next to a children’s play park. Confused picnic-goers can be seen attempting to move their possessions as the driver then edges off of the green.

Clearly lost, the driver attempts to reverse to the edge of park, ramming his vehicle through a nearby fence in the process.

“He damaged our site, the kids’ area gate is broken,” the 46 year-old caretaker added..

“Never in my life have I seen something like this – the road is there, and the lorry is here. I can’t understand why people would drive like this.”

Since Galley Hill Road closed last year due to a landslip there has been a large official diversion. However, on roads coming off of the official diversion, there are no HGV signs – which residents say truckers routinely ignore.

The skidmark left by the lorry near the Ebbsfleet playpark
The skidmark left by the lorry near the Ebbsfleet playpark -Credit:LDRS

Swanscombe resident Bruce Stitchbury, 80, wants to see action taken to address the safety concerns.

He said: “Over the last year we’ve had only about four of those sort of accidents, but nine times out of 10 they normally manage to reverse in a straight line. There should be a barrier, a height barrier put across the road to stop the lorries coming through,” he argued.

He also blasted the amount of time taken to repair the road after the landslip.

“Anywhere else in the world this would all be cleaned up months ago – there would be a new road put in or a temporary road,” he added.

Work finally got underway earlier this month after legal wrangling between landowners on-site but had to halted yet again after contractors came across two live wires during the course of their work. Kent County Councillor Cllr Peter Harman, who has been representing residents on behalf of the Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents Association, was amazed by the lorry driver’s blunder.

“It’s very hard to understand why the driver did what he did – he obviously got into some difficulty going down an inappropriate road, but then to drive round, on or near the children’s play area or on the grass I find just amazing,” he said.

The lorry drove past 'no HGV' signs and left damage, it's been claimed
The lorry drove past 'no HGV' signs and left damage, it's been claimed -Credit:LDRS

“I think they [police] should certainly prosecute in this case, I think that will spread to other lorry drivers and they’ll become aware.”

He added that locals have set up a ‘Lorry Watch’ scheme to monitor HGVs coming down residential roads where they shouldn’t be, but that they don’t often catch them at the rush hour in the early morning and the evening.

Graham Taylor, who also sits on the committee of Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents Association, explained: “It [the lorry] got stuck in roads it should never have been on and then couldn’t get out again – despite the fact that it says very clearly road closed no HGVs.”

A 7.5 tonne vehicle weight limit applies to all of Swanscombe, but many trucks ignore it, he says.

“There certainly seems to be at least an incident every week, sometimes more frequently than that. Some of the signage reduces the incidents initially but we still have a hard core of lorries that are ignoring them.”

The lorry damaged this fence at the play park, it's been alleged
The lorry damaged this fence at the play park, it's been alleged -Credit:LDRS

“There needs to be more proactive enforcement from the police – the police seem to take a very laid-back attitude towards it they seem to say that because it’s a moving traffic offence – they’ve got to catch vehicles in the act where it’s safe to stop them and turn them around.

“I don’t think they’ve actually looked seriously enough and creatively enough at the issue.”

Police say an investigation into the circumstances of the incident is underway. Officers from the force’s Roads Poling Unit attended the scene and spoke to the driver who was issued with a fixed penalty notice for driving without due care and attention.

North Kent Chief Inspector Will Lay said: “We are aware of residents’ frustration about lorries breaching weight restrictions and causing congestion in Northfleet while diversions are in place due to road repairs elsewhere in the area. Local officers and roads policing patrols will respond to reports a HGV is committing a traffic offence when they are not engaged on emergency calls and other urgent duties.

“The local beat officer has been speaking to residents and business owners and has set up an online portal for information and videos of suspected offences to be submitted. He has also been in contact foreign and UK freight operators whose vehicles regularly travel through Swanscombe and Greenhithe to ensure their drivers avoid the area.

“In addition, we are working with partners to explore opportunities to prevent lorries that breach the weight restriction from using this route. This includes Kent County Council teams ensuring clear signage is in place. I would urge residents to assist us to enforce this legislation by proactively taking details of prohibited vehicles seen driving through the locality and then passing the information to our officers by reporting incidents online.”

Kent Council Council were approached for comment.