A PETITION that has already amassed more than 600 signatures calling for better pedestrian safety following an accident has been deemed invalid.

Mother-of-four Kate Stanley launched the petition last week urging Durham County Council to conduct a comprehensive safety review in Sedgefield after her son was knocked down trying to cross a busy road.

The petition has been shared among residents and has the backing of Sedgefield MP Paul Howell and both primary schools, attracting some 602 signatures to date, yet Durham County Council has said it would not accept it because it has been created using a third-party website Change.org, rather than the council’s own e-petition resource.

Mrs Stanley has now launched a replacement petition, validated by the council, and is urging all those who signed the original to add their name to the new petition, which will be presented to the council in March.

Mrs Stanley said: “It is incredibly frustrating that a petition that has attracted so much local support from residents, our new MP and both schools is essentially worthless in the council’s eyes because it wasn’t created using its own e-petition procedure. We’ve hit a bureaucratic brick wall.

“The new petition has now been validated and I just hope all those who signed the first one will take the time to register and sign this council petition so that our hopes for improved road safety in Sedgefield can be taken seriously.”

Mrs Stanley wants the council to assess the need for more road crossings in Sedgefield after her six-year-old son James was hit by a car crossing a busy central road, where West End meets North End and two restaurants, a pub and a car park all sit in close proximity.

“Thankfully the car was travelling slowly and was able to brake, meaning the impact left James with just scrapes. It could have been so much worse and it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured crossing one of Sedgefield’s roads,” said Mrs Stanley, of Church View.

Ros Layfield, democratic services manager at Durham County Council, added: “We are always keen to hear people’s views and have a procedure in place to help members of the public to submit petitions. There is guidance on how to submit paper and e-petitions on our website.

“We have received Mrs Stanley’s petition, but as this was created using a third-party website, we are unable to verify the signatures. Instead, we have helped Mrs Stanley to set up an e-petition on our website. We would normally pass this onto the relevant team within the council after it has been signed by ten people. On this occasion, however, we have already notified the service of the request for the e-petition so that officers can start to give consideration to it pending receipt of the required number of signatories.”

Following the incident and launch of the original petition, Sedgefield MP Paul Howell wrote to Durham County Council requesting a road assessment.

Durham County Councillor John Robinson, who lives in Sedgefield, met with Mrs Stanley and has pledged his support to a road traffic assessment and has a meeting with the council’s head of highways next week to discuss the matter.

Both Andrea Cox, head of Sedgefield Primary School, and Sally Newton, head of Hardwick Primary School, pledged their full support to the petition and carried out road safety awareness sessions with pupils.

Mrs Newton said: “This is an ongoing issue that I have been concerned about for some time now and will only become worse with the increase in residential developments. It doesn’t appear that infrastructure has been considered.”

The new petition can be found at democracy.durham.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=163

Durham County Council petition guidance can be found at durham.gov.uk/petitions