Our justification for opposing traffic lights

I WRITE in response to Coun David Moore’s letter printed in the Herald (September 20).

First, he believes that the Lights Out! campaign group is somehow ‘close-minded’ to the idea of the new traffic lights.

We are not close-minded, we are simply highlighting the painfully obvious fact that for the vast majority of the day, these lights are causing additional congestion and frustration.

In the same edition, the Herald reported on its front page that the police had confirmed that the lights were causing more congestion than previously experienced and that there was no justification on the grounds of safety for the replacement of the roundabout with traffic lights. I am now aware of at least two road traffic accidents occurring in the lights in the space of four days, earlier this month.

The Chamber of Trade has officially voted to support the Lights Out! campaign, as well as making its own representations to the council, and Morpeth Town Council also now seems to have grasped that the lights are not fit for purpose.

Lights Out! has collected videos and photographs of traffic problems, a barrier has been erected for pedestrian safety (such a barrier was not previously required before the lights), thousands have signed a petition and 500 marched on County Hall to vent their frustration at a junction imposed upon us and which patently does not work.

In light of all of the evidence and the public anger at these lights, to say Lights Out! (which, might I add was only established in early August and which has now become one of the largest lobby groups in the county’s history) is close-minded defies belief. It’s akin to saying we should be open-minded to murder, even if it is wrong. Absolute nonsense.

Lights Out! forced the council to agree to undertake a review of Morpeth’s traffic management problems in the round, and that process will soon get under way. Myself and other Lights Out! representatives will take part in that review, and we will be open-minded about the issues, but the only option we can accept, when it come to the traffic lights, is their removal. Whatever form of roundabout that replaces them, we are entirely open-minded about.

Those wearing blinkers are the people at County Hall, such as Coun Moore, who cannot see what a terrible effect these lights are having on Morpeth, as people are driven away from our otherwise attractive shops and markets.

Secondly, Coun Moore suggests that the good folk of Morpeth reserve further judgment until the new supermarket opens next year. However, what has been shown is that the lights have worsened traffic flow now. So, can Coun Moore explain what will happen when the new supermarket opens and the expected extra 10 per cent to 20 per cent of traffic hits our streets? Does he seriously believe that things will improve by adding more traffic to the queues?

Morpeth has a problem now and it can only get worse. The tide is turning and we are winning the arguments. Now is the time for our political leaders, such as Coun Moore, to step up to the mark and make the difference we all want to see. Take the lights out.

DAVID J TOWNS

Chairman, Lights Out!