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Covid road closure chaos 'helps crooks flee police'

Road closures brought in during the pandemic are fuelling crime and holding up ambulances, a report has found.

Hundreds of roads across the country are being closed to make way for low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).

Officials say the Government schemes have cut pollution on streets.

But a damning council inquiry into one of the most controversial LTNs — a series of zones in Ealing, West London — found they are turning residential areas into crime hotspots and putting lives at risk.

The schemes have also led to thousands of miles of controversial new cycle lanes.

In a report by Labour-run Ealing Council, police warned the closures are helping criminals on bikes flee officers as the barriers block access for patrol cars.

Road closures brought in during the pandemic are fuelling crime and holding up ambulances, a report has found

Road closures brought in during the pandemic are fuelling crime and holding up ambulances, a report has found

Road closures brought in during the pandemic are fuelling crime and holding up ambulances, a report has found

And they say pedestrians are being put in danger as drivers are encouraged to mount pavements.

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) said there have been ‘a number of incidents’ where LTNs in Ealing have left emergency vehicles unable to pass traffic.

In Southwark, South London, LTNs have led to at least two life-threatening delays where crews were forced to take longer routes.

Emergency services have also complained about a lack of consultation over alterations to road layouts.

The schemes have also led to thousands of miles of controversial new cycle lanes

The schemes have also led to thousands of miles of controversial new cycle lanes

The schemes have also led to thousands of miles of controversial new cycle lanes

The revelations in the Ealing Council report will pile pressure on Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

More than 50 councils are to create around 200 LTNs under the Department for Transport’s £250million ‘active travel’ plan.

Some 14 Tory MPs have been pressuring Mr Shapps to abandon the policy.

In Ealing, council officials have admitted that out of 5,000 comments left by residents about LTNs, 76 per cent were against them.

Kensington council officials this week said new £700,000 cycle lanes would be removed after complaints they caused gridlock and were hardly used.

They have also been abandoned in Lancashire, Tyne and Wear, Derby and Kent.

Road closures have been scrapped in Reading and Redbridge, East London, after proving unpopular.

An Ealing Council said: ‘There are no formal objections to LTNs from the emergency services and LTNs have not led to response times being missed.’

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