New ‘low traffic neighbourhoods’ must not stop the emergency services responding to calls quickly as possible.
This simple truth – that a flower bed blocking the road can’t be the thing which could stop someone receiving life-saving care – seems to have escaped Southwark Council.
This week we report how one single council roadblock in Chapter Street has been seen to stop ambulances and fire brigade crews responding to emergency calls, forcing them into u-turns.
Shockingly, in one case, multiple residents told us the roadblock delayed ambulance crews responding to a woman who fell from a fourth-floor window.
The service itself admitted that schemes like Southwark’s risk delaying urgent care to critical patients.
Residents have been raising the alarm, with video evidence, since July, when the scheme was first implemented.
Southwark says it will keep the roadblock under review to ensure access for emergency vehicles. We say: You’ve had three months. What on earth is taking you so long?
This is not the only change under the ‘low neighbourhood’ banner which appears to have been marred by blunders on the part of council officials.
Residents of the Brandon Estate have been left with one point of exit via John Ruskin Street, forcing them to go to Elephant and Castle to get to Walworth Road.
This bonkers route simply can’t be creating either fewer traffic jams or less pollution.
In other cases, residents have reported the Met being given the slip by criminals on mopeds – cars are blocked by the council flower beds. Mopeds are not.
Any low traffic neighbourhood can spark bitter debate. It can all too often be polarised: motorists vs cyclists, taxi drivers vs TFL, council vs lobby groups.
This is being played out all across London. A similar scheme has been scrapped in Wandsworth, thousands have signed a petition against it in Lambeth, and in Lewisham, the council leader has pledged to review some of its initiatives following a backlash.
But wherever you stand – as a motorist, cyclist, pedestrian or all of the above – we hope access for emergency vehicles is one thing everyone can agree on.