BY GRAINNE CUFFE Local Democracy Reporter
Police sent drivers up closed off roads after a crash caused traffic “chaos” in Lee Green.
This is despite Lewisham council claiming emergency services were “fully consulted” on the new low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) in the area.
An armed police car responding to an emergency call crashed into two other vehicles and a traffic island at the junction of Burnt Ash Hill and Westhorne Avenue just before 10am on Thursday of last week.
Some officers and members of the public went to hospital – no one suffered serious injuries.
As well as causing a huge build-up of traffic, added to the confusion were the traffic calming measures brought in by the council in June, which aim to cut through-traffic and promote active travel.
The LTN, which involves physical and camera-enforced barriers to prevent motor vehicles driving through, was already planned before the pandemic, but brought in under Covid-19 emergency transport measures instead.
People in the area said the police seemed completely unaware of them as they were sending drivers up roads that had physical barriers and no way out. Police ended up directing drivers through the camera-enforced barriers, and said they should appeal any fines – though the council has said anyone affected will not be fined.
One resident said the postman had to tell police about the barriers after they sent cars down Woodyates Road. This seemed in contradiction to what council bosses told the overview and scrutiny business panel on Tuesday, August 18 after members asked about the consultation process.
Kevin Sheehan, executive director for housing, regeneration and public realm, said emergency services were consulted and “fully involved throughout”.
On Friday, August 21, a council spokesman said the council consulted police at “every stage”, but did not comment on police seeming to be unaware of the closures. He said after the crash police redirected traffic in order to safely disperse road users.
He said: “Cars travelling down roads which are subject to traffic reduction measures as part of a diversion route will not be penalised for doing so during this time by the cameras that have recently been installed.
“We have consulted with all of our partners, including the police at every stage before implementing these measures.” A Met spokeswoman said the force has been consulted but said, in an emergency, officers “look to make diversions as swiftly as possible with the information they have to hand.
“The Met would have been consulted about traffic measures but, in order to protect those injured and allow them to receive medical help, and to preserve the scene, officers had to make necessary diversions based on the circumstances.
“In an emergency, officers look to make diversions as swiftly as possible with the information they have to hand in order to protect the scene and those involved.
“If a diversion does not work officers adapt and amend them accordingly, and will always try to help keep traffic moving.
“We thank the public for their patience and understanding while we dealt with an emergency,” she said.
Pictured: The scene of the crash at the junction of Burnt Ash Hill and Westhorne Avenue
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