The Scheme was introduced under a new temporary traffic order, so that Greenwich qualified for the first tranche of the Emergency Active Travel Fund. The government chose to introduce the scheme, creating an impenetrable concrete barrier along Royal Hill and Blissett Street, pushes Royal Hill and streets to the west of the barrier out of the LTN, increases traffic, and fails to provide protection for primary school children at James Wolf School, or people visiting neighbourhood shops cafes and businesses on foot.
‘Modal filters’ or permanent barriers deny essential access to local traffic and emergency services, exporting more traffic chaos, as the economy struggles with the pandemic. Blackheath Hill, already an accident and congestion blackpsot, has been forced to take on more overcrowding as local vehicles are forced by the barriers to divert.
Cllr Geoffrey Brighty told the November 25 Council meeting that the scheme, which has displaced unacceptable levels of traffic to East Greenwich and Trafalgar Road, should be scrapped for the duration of the pandemic. The London Ambulance Service condemned the scheme in July when Greenwich Chief Traffic Engineer conducted a perfunctory consultation by email. Comments by the Ambulance and Fire service were ignored. South East London LAS said:
"Congestion is already high on main trunk roads on the Blackheath and Shooters Hill area making emergency response challenging. Reducing access to residential streets would significantly impact on our ability to reach patients quickly.
“Paramedics already have a stressful job managing patient care and cannot be further stressed by having to navigate complex road closures when trying to reach calls or rapidly convey very unwell or injured persons to hospital.
“Consideration also needs to be given to the wider health and social care providers who will need access to address and are on tight schedules. Patient transport ambulance picking patients up for chemotherapy or dialysis appointments, district and community healthcare teams and social care carers will all be delayed by having to navigated additional road closures and restrictions leading to delayed care, welfare issues, humanitarian concerns and potential for emergency admission as a result of delays. Additional missed clinical appointments has a detrimental effect on service delivery and patient flow through the NHS system.
"All local authorities and TfL are implementing these schemes and there is no coordinated engagement or process for emergency service to feedback or object resulting in schemes overlapping and impacting on each other.
“The use of ANPR is the best way schemes can be enforced as it allows roads to remain open to emergency services at all times. Although costly, life, as you would agree, is more important.”
LAS has also criticised Greenwich for failing to provide for turning at the scene, which could put critical patients at risk, and has also pointed out that Greenwich town centre has a high call volume due to residential, tourist, commercial and licensed premises in the area. The ambulance service is continuing to press for changes while Greenwich persists with the dangerous scheme.
Only the fire brigade can drive through fixed modal filters like the barriers in Royal Hill. Ambulances and police vehicles do not carry keys and must follow alternative routes just like local residents.