LTNs in Oxford have increased ambulance staff stress and caused delays, according to a paramedic.

Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet voted unanimously this week to keep low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Cowley.

The controversial measures, which enable the use of giant plant pots and bollards to partially close off side roads, were experimental but have been made permanent by Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green councillors in charge of the county.

But while supporters have greeted the decision, others criticised the council for failing to listen to local people, who are worried about increased traffic, pollution and emergency services delays.

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A paramedic, who has been working in the ambulance service in the area for five years, also criticised the decision.

He said that due to the measures he has had ten minutes added to his travel times, which he said “could be the difference between life and death.”

He said: “The LTNs in Oxford have increased the stress of trying to reach patients because multiple roads throughout Oxford have been unnecessarily closed, roads which connect two very busy sides of the city.

“We frequently turn down one road while travelling to an emergency only to find it is closed, so we divert and come across another.

“This makes it very difficult to reach patients in a timely manner, in situations where literally every second counts.  

“The LTNs absolutely prevent ambulances from reaching patients as quickly as possible, this is because we can no longer move freely and easily down the roads of Oxford.

“Whereas we used to be able to use roads like Littlehay road and Cornwallis road to get between Cowley Road and Iffley Road these are now blocked adding minutes to responses times, especially when we are trying to reach a job that is down on of the roads that is closed because if we guess the wrong side to enter from we than have to divert all the way to either end of the closed sections to come back.

READ MORE: 'It's a disaster': Oxford LTNs decision criticised by residents

“They need to be removed, adding road blocks might decrease traffic, but I don't think people's lives is an acceptable cost to pay.”

A spokesman from South Central Ambulance Service, which covers Oxfordshire as well as most of the south region, said: "Our mapping system has been updated with all the LTNs and road closures and our local Oxfordshire 999 operational management team has received no feedback from any of our staff raising concerns about the LTNs."

A spokesman from Oxfordshire County Council said: "We have engaged with emergency services through the development and implementation of the experimental LTNs, and regular meetings will continue to take place.

"The LTN bollards are lockable and, as per discussions with the emergency services, keys are available, so the bollards can be opened by the emergency services and other essential road users. They can also be opened if there are problems on the wider road network.

"We will continue to work closely with emergency services to minimise the impact of the measures on their important work and ensure that their access to and through these streets in emergencies is ensured."


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This story was written by Anna Colivicchi, she joined the team this year and covers health stories for the Oxfordshire papers. 

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