Bypass will not solve issues

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A NEW Morpeth bypass will do little to improve town centre congestion, councillors have warned.

Members of Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee have said that the road, which will go from Whorral Bank to the A1, will not be the solution that people may expect.

It follows a workshop with consultant Phil Jones, who is reviewing all aspects of the town’s transport network.

Committee Chairman Graeme Trotter said: “Phil Jones had some very interesting slides about the effect of traffic on the road system in Morpeth after the Northern Bypass is put in, making assumptions about where development might go.

“What became very apparent was that we will be back to square one quite quickly.”

Coun David Parker added: “Given the level of development it will generally increase use of most of the key roads in Morpeth. It was not a very bright future from that point of view.

“We have got to recognise from the start that we have got an historic market town that was built for horses and carriages and we now have got substantially more vehicles, including large lorries and buses. It is like trying to put two pints in a one-pint pot.

“There really isn’t one answer, it is trying to get the least worst answer, but it is very difficult to judge what that may be.

“Whatever it is, it is not going to provide the people of Morpeth with the sort of answer which some of them appear to desire. There isn’t such an answer, but there will be some answers and we have got to find the best one.”

Coun Parker said it is also difficult to judge the real levels of congestion due to a series of developments.

“We need everybody to recognise that we have got in Morpeth a series of temporary situations, all of which in different ways impact on what we are talking about,” he said.

“First of all we have the supermarket opening and then later in the year the previous store will be opening probably as another store with a different operator. That will have an impact.

“We have got the new road coming in in two years and in the meantime we have flood alleviation work going on, which will impact on the town centre as well.

“It is difficult because if we are talking long-term, until these things are all in place we can’t be sure exactly how the thing will plan out.”

Coun Ken Brown said the workshops have raised far more issues than simply addressing complaints about traffic lights at Telford Bridge, which prompted the review.

“It was good to get all of the issues on the table about Morpeth’s transport difficulties, not just the single issue of the traffic lights at Telford Bridge,” he said.

“It was good to look at all of the things that are coming over the next few years, not just the supermarket, not just the bypass, but all the other activities that will be going on, and to come up with some suggestions.”