Calls for action on lorries blighting Hampstead street and wasting police time

Police have backed demands for a clampdown on lorries blighting one of Hampstead’s historic streets after two trucks became trapped in just 48 hours.

Officers were called to Church Row last Wednesday after a parked Mini had a fender and wing-mirror destroyed by a Travis Perkins truck.

The lorry then became wedged between an Audi and a tree.

On Friday morning police were forced to return to help free another heavy goods vehicle (HGV) that was stuck between the tree and a parked car.

Frustrated residents have long urged Camden Council to do more to stop the lorries attempting to squeeze through Church Row in their hundreds each day.

Now police officers have backed their pleas, saying the repeated call-outs are costing valuable police time. Sgt Ryan Keating, of the Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said: “It’s using our time for things that it doesn’t need to be used for.

‘‘If there was a proper traffic management system there, our time could be used for other things like tackling crime, which is our priority.”

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Lorry restrictions are in place but residents say they do not stop cars, bollards or paving stones from being damaged on an almost daily basis.

Truck drivers think they can make it through because bollards are spaced more than 8ft apart, but the street is less than 7ft wide at its narrowest point.

Matt McCarthy, 43, of Frognal, who witnessed the chaos caused by the Travis Perkins truck, said: “This is a regular occurrence – that’s the second time Travis Perkins has done this in a matter of weeks.

“The council seems to be failing to respond to residents’ concerns. I don’t understand why they’re not doing anything because the damage is quite phenomenal.”

Residents’ biggest fear is that the road could simply buckle under the weight of the lorries – because it is lined with Georgian cellars – or that pedestrians could be injured.

A man narrowly escaped being crushed by a tree that was knocked over by a passing HGV in 2011.

The Church Row Residents’ Association appeared before Camden Council’s culture and environment scrutiny committee to appeal for action in March, but the group says nothing has happened since then.

Association chairman David Milne said: “It’s been going on for years, and despite residents making cost-effective proposals, Camden don’t seem to be interested.”

A spokesman for Camden Council said: “Due to a number of large vehicles still attempting to use the road, we are reviewing Church Row as part of a wider highways project in Hampstead, including looking at the existing width restriction and associated signage.”

Builders’ merchant Travis Perkins declined to comment.