Residents say Paramedics delayed reaching woman who’d fallen from height because of council’s ‘low traffic’ roadblock

Josh Salisbury (23 September, 2020)

Residents have filmed emergency services vehicles being forced to do a u-turn at the road block on multiple occasions

39132A roadblock on Chapter Road SE17

An ambulance was delayed reaching a woman who had fallen from a fourth-floor window, residents say – because a council flower-bed blocks the road just seconds from her home.

The woman fell at around 2.30pm last Thursday afternoon in Lorrimore Square, Kennington. She is said to be recovering from her injuries.

But multiple residents around the area have told the News that her ambulance was delayed because roads surrounding Lorrimore Square have been blocked off by flower beds, as part of a ‘low-traffic neighbourhood’ initiative from Southwark Council.

The Ambulance Service said all crews arrived within target time despite reports of delays, and that the first crew on scene did not report a delay.

But it dramatically admitted that Southwark’s low traffic neighbourhood schemes risk delaying crews giving life-saving treatments to critically ill patients.

READ MORE: Video: Emergency services repeatedly filmed u-turning during emergency calls because of council road closure

Emergency services being blocked off from reaching those in need is a common occurrence say those who live on Chapter Road, which leads to the square.

“The ambulance was really tearing up the road, it slowed down at the barrier and then had to do a quick three point turn,” said eye-witness Jaimie Todd.

The vehicle then went down a cul-de-sac, before turning around, finding another council-installed roadblock, and then eventually managing to get to the scene minutes later, said the 45-year-old.

“The air ambulance arrived even as the other ambulance was still going around the houses,” he said.

He estimated there has been fourteen times where one roadblock, installed in July, had impeded the emergency services – so he has even drawn a map of directions for police and paramedics on the flower bed itself.

Residents have resorted to putting up a map of directions on the roadblock to help out struggling firefighters and paramedics

“Changes to road layouts, traffic management schemes, and road closures all have the potential to impede our response to the most critically ill people and could delay life-saving treatments or conveyance to the nearest emergency department,” an ambulance spokesperson admitted.

“We are in ongoing discussions with Transport for London and local authorities including Southwark to ensure emergency vehicle access is properly considered, and the impact of any changes monitored.”

Resident Giles Baleny can see the roadblock from his house. He said: “I regularly see police and ambulances being forced to turn around.

“They want to stop people going the most direct route, but some people have to go the most direct route.

“I think it just speaks to the failure to properly consult on the process.”

Others have said they suspect the new road-blocks – rapidly installed during the pandemic – do not show up on sat-navs used by emergency services.

“Their system doesn’t seem to have been updated,” said Fiona McClean, who can also see the roadblock from her house. “The main thing is that it’s putting people’s lives at risk.”

Only one of those the News spoke to was opposed to the ‘low-traffic’ scheme, with most saying it needs to be adapted. “I like the idea,” said Fiona, 60, who also witnessed the ambulance involved in the incident. “But it’s just badly implemented.”

Since the incident, several more ambulances have been stuck at the barrier, claimed resident Tristan Noakes, who has taken multiple videos of the stranded cars.

Southwark Council’s newly appointed head of transport, Cllr Catherine Rose, said: “We are deeply saddened by the news of this incident, and wish the woman a full and swift recovery.

“We will continue to work with the London Ambulance Service and all the other emergency services, as part of our planned ongoing review of schemes such as this, across the borough.”

Opposition Lib Dem councillor, Damian O’Brien, said the council had to listen more carefully to local residents when implementing low traffic neighbourhoods.

“The devil is in the detail,” said the Liberal Democrat transport spokesman. “Waltham Forest have been very successful while Hackney is suffering a severe push-back by some road users and a hostile atmosphere is developing.

“There is no point moving the problem to a new location – we want fewer car journeys, more environmentally-friendly forms of transport and for traffic to keep moving.

“These goals will only be aided by LTNs if local residents are listened to and that is what Liberal Democrats are always asking for.”

Contribute
Rosheen says:

They have also changed the traffic direction in chapter Road and also planning to turn Manor place into a cycle scheme with no cars etc allowed up. It’s going to get a lot worse for firefighters and paramedics to be able to enter and exit and as far as I am concerned I’ve not had any consultation with resident. Disgusting the way residents have been treated at this end of walworth.

diana says:

They want their roads closed but will be the first to complain when the ambulance cannot get to them

diana says:

They took away the emergency vehicle access from the roads and replaced them with cycle lanes . This is now a city that panders to loud aggressive minorities at the expense of the sick and injured

Tom says:

Every day you see ambulances held up by cars and stuck in traffic. Maybe we should start with banning private vehicles before looking at the few roads that are blocked by positive attempts to reduce congestion. I can only assume Diana means car owners are the aggressive minority as in London car owners in the minority. If this is the case then I wholeheartedly agree. London panders to the loud aggressive minority of car owners at the expense of the majority who are pedestrians or cyclists.

John Davies says:

The councilors of Walworth should be singled out and sacked for gross incompetence. Cllrs Martin Seaton, Darren Merrill and Richard Livingstone have been warned their brain dead ideas will lead to someone being killed due to the emergency services being trapped or forced to go on a de tour. But they refuse to listen. Clearly making life a misery for motorists is far more important than the safety of the residents of Walworth. Larcom St will be the next disaster as they have blocked off one end and made it two way traffic from Brandon St. No way could a fire engine get down Larcom with traffic coming the way. Sack all 3 of them.

Tom says:

LFBA were consulted on the measures and reportedly support them.
Car owners are in the minority in Southwark. Councillors that deliver improvements for the majority in their ward usually do well in elections.
Schemes like this will make Walworth a better place to live for the majority.

Mark says:

Classic Google Maps issue where the roads have changed but the direction finder apps have not been updated.

I’ve had this issue a few time on a trip to Italy when the road became one way.

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