'Arrests Made' Over Traffic Scheme Vandalism
Council says people detained for damaging bollards and defacing planters
Controversy around Ealing’s Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) has taken a heated turn as the council claims people have been arrested for vandalising bollards and signs demarking the new traffic measures.
Residents’ pictures show planters being overturned and graffiti reading “abuse of power” as some examples of how tensions have risen over the changes to drivers’ access to roads across the borough.
Council leader Julian Bell has warned the criminal damage “has to stop”.
He added: “This is causing access problems for our emergency services and endangering residents’ lives.
“We are also seeing dangerous and irresponsible driving by motorists, who are going on to the pavement to avoid the barriers and putting pedestrians, particularly children, at risk of serious injury.”
No further details have so far been provided of the arrests stated by the council, but a council spokesperson said: “We strongly remind residents that vandalism is a criminal offence and such reports will be reported to the police and prosecution may follow…
“Multiple arrests have been made and there remains an ongoing police investigation.”
Nearly 7,000 people have signed a petition objecting to how the traffic-calming measures have been introduced. Despite supporting the main aims of boosting air quality, road safety and cutting traffic, opponents say the current plans are not “fit for purpose” in doing so.
Residents involved in the anti-LTN campaign group say they do not condone any acts of violence or vandalism, and that they will continue to argue their case peacefully and through communications.
Campaigner Laura Begg told the Local Democracy Reporting Service, “It is not what the anti-LTN group stands for…it [vandalism] doesn’t achieve anything removing the bollards.
“It doesn’t show the council the true build-up of traffic…It’s not a specific group of people doing it and it’s not an organised thing, it is just random acts by very angry people.”
Ms Begg also urged that the vandalism detracts from the main arguments against the LTNs. A primary concern from residents is that emergency services response times could be delayed due to route changes and diversions, and that conversations with first responders suggests they had not been aware of the changes.
Fellow resident, Scott Jones, added, “The LTNs have been deployed without consultation of residents. Ealing Council has stated that their actions have been in regards to ‘future’ rat-runs. Why then have they not published the data in regards to ‘future’ scenarios?
“Anecdotal and documented evidence via entities ranging from the London Ambulance Service to district nurses shows that keyworkers were unaware of these changes; changes that have been detrimental to their work in their duty of care.
“The lack of reasoning in conjunction with supporting data in the sudden changes is concerning to all.”
But Cllr Bell countered the claims, saying, “In introducing low traffic neighbourhoods, our first priority is to do this safely. That’s why we’ve consulted with all of the emergency services and continue to do so.
“The bollards that we have put in – the barriers – were done so as a result of feedback from the local emergency services.
“They all have standard locks that the emergency services have keys for and have been used for years. We have provided all our local emergency services with additional keys to make sure they have access.”
A spokesperson for London Ambulance Service previously told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that they “fully support” the measures to improve public health and that they are working closely with London councils, Transport for London and other partners to ensure emergency vehicle access is considered in the plans.
Meanwhile, others have taken to social media, pleased with some of the benefits from the scheme.
Neil Reynolds said on Twitter: “I have just cycled into Ealing with my two children. I would not have dreamt of doing this prior to the LTN. On the way back I saw more bikes on the road than cars. Thank you Ealing Council.”
The LTNs are being trialled for a six-month period. To have your say on the changes and find out more click here.
Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter
September 5, 2020