Ambulances on blue lights forced to u-turn due to low traffic scheme

Astonishing moment ambulances on emergency calls are forced to U-turn by council’s traffic-calming FLOWER BEDS – as furious locals call for scheme to be axed

  • North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) say there have been a ‘number of delays’
  • Scheme launched in Heaton Chapel area of Greater Manchester in September
  • Ambulance chiefs say paramedics have had to ‘navigate around’  road closures
  • Council bosses say emergency services were consulted before scheme launch 

Ambulance service chiefs are launching an urgent review into the impact of a low traffic neighbourhood scheme amid fears paramedics may have been delayed in getting to patients.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) say there have been a ‘number of delays’ due to Stockport Council’s ‘Active Neighbourhood’ scheme.

The trial scheme, launched in the Heaton Chapel area of Greater Manchester in September, has seen roads blocked off with traffic-calming flower beds in a bid to reduce traffic.

But ambulance service chiefs say paramedics have had to ‘navigate around’ the road closures.

Astonishing CCTV, flagged to council chiefs by concerned residents, appears to show ambulances on blue lights have to u-turn in the road due to the planters. 

Council bosses say all emergency services were consulted before the three month trial, which is due to end next month. 

However they are now ‘urgently awaiting’ the findings of a review by NWAS who said in a statement: ‘The trust has looked into some of the incidents reported by residents and found that there were a number of delays, as some ambulances had to navigate around the road closures.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) say there have been a ‘number of delays’ due to Stockport Council’s ‘Active Neighbourhood’ scheme (pictured)

Ambulance service bosses say paramedics have had to ‘navigate around’ the road closures. Astonishing CCTV (pictured), flagged to council chiefs by concerned residents, appears to show ambulances on blue lights have to u-turn in the road due to the planters.

‘As a result, we are now undertaking an investigation into all incidents reported to us and will be consulting with the council. We are also reiterating to staff the importance of our reporting systems to identify these types of issues.’

The review comes after residents flagged CCTV of ambulances appearing to do u-turns when confronted by traffic-calming planters in Heaton Chapel.

Footage appears to show several ambulances with blue lights flashing being forced to turn around since it began on September 10.

Locals say they have had to give directions to confused emergency service workers who have come up against the roadblocks.

The review comes after residents flagged CCTV of ambulances appearing to do u-turns when confronted by traffic-calming planters in Heaton Chapel

Outraged locals repeatedly highlighted the issue to the council, saying the ‘overkill’ planters cause emergency vehicles up to four minutes’ delay and ultimately could cost lives.

Council transport chiefs had firmly rebuked the idea of the planters causing ambulance delays and branded the claims ‘misinformation’ in a letter sent to residents on September 28.

However NWAS have since investigated the incidents caught on camera and claim there have indeed been ‘a number of delays as some ambulances had to navigate around the road closures’.

Stockport Council said the safety of residents is ‘of paramount importance’ and are looking into the situation, while the ‘trial’ scheme remains in place until early December before a consultation takes place next year.

Resident Alison Stafford-Bentley said she ‘feels sorry’ for paramedics caught out by the roadblockers and admits she was annoyed by the ‘misinformation’ letter as she claims to have seen the issue first-hand.

Alison, 55, said: ‘[Head of Highways and Transportation of Stockport Council] Sue Stevenson sent out this letter saying that the ambulance delays were “misinformation”. I challenged her on this at the drop-in at a school in early October.

‘She said ‘I never said it was misinformation’. I said ‘Do you want me to show you the letter?’ She just turned away at that point, because she knew I was right.

‘It really annoys me when they say that this is misinformation. 

‘How would they feel if it was one of their relatives waiting for an ambulance because it was getting diverted down different roads?

Council transport chiefs had firmly rebuked the idea of the planters causing ambulance delays and branded the claims ‘misinformation’ in a letter sent to residents on September 28.

‘The scheme started on September 10 and since then we’ve had eight delays that I know of.

‘But people have been telling me about other delays they’ve seen, so that’s about ten or twelve – which is more than one a week.’

Alison even claims to have approached an ambulance driving near her house on November 2 and says she found they were unaware of the new road scheme.

Alison said: ‘I felt sorry for the two paramedics, because they told me they didn’t have any idea about these planters or the scheme.

Concerned campaigner Helen Jones, 49, has spoken out against the scheme as she believes there are delays occurring but they are not being logged

‘They told me they were trying to get onto Bollington Road, and I was telling them how to get there. I asked ‘have you not been told? Are you not aware of this?’.

‘They said ‘no’. They also said ‘It’s absolutely ridiculous, we’re driving up and down these roads and we can’t get where we need to be’.

‘I just feel it’s terrible. They’re trying to get to an emergency which they need to get to as quickly as possible, and yet these filters are impeding them.

‘I did ask the guys to report it. These guys are working, their jobs are to save lives.

‘At the end of the day, the last thing they’re probably thinking is ‘we’ve got to file paperwork’, so I can understand it. It’s hard for them.

‘We’re being told that the ambulance drivers are being told about the scheme when they’re clearly not.

‘I would hate to think that it would take a fatality for this to be brought to somebody’s attention and for something to be done about it.’

Concerned campaigner Helen Jones, 49, has spoken out against the scheme as she believes there are delays occurring but they are not being logged.

Helen said: ‘With all this footage, there’s no way that these ambulances haven’t been delayed.

‘I think the council have seen this footage – they know. The councillors have seen the footage because it’s been all over Facebook.

‘We’re getting nowhere, even though we have video footage. I don’t see how it can be denied.’

Helen claims that most residents who showed up to a meeting about the scheme were against its implementation.

Alison even claims to have approached an ambulance driving near her house on November 2 and says she found they were unaware of the new road scheme.

Helen claims that most residents who showed up to a meeting about the scheme were against its implementation

A spokesperson for Stockport Council said: ‘We had been made aware of reports from residents regarding ambulances travelling through the area.

‘We consulted all of the emergency services prior to the start of the trial, and we have been in dialogue with the North West Ambulance Service since the trial began.

‘We had been reassured by NWAS that there had been no issues with their crews being affected by the modal filters.

‘Following a letter sent to residents by NWAS regarding crews experiencing delays, both ourselves and Transport for Greater Manchester are urgently awaiting the details from the NWAS operations team so we can understand the issues that their crews have faced while travelling through the area.

‘The safety of our residents is of paramount importance to the council.

‘With the trial scheme coming to an end in early December, a consultation on a permanent scheme for the area will take place in early 2022.’ 

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