Parking on pavement ‘raises risk of accident’

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CONCERNS have been raised that someone could get seriously hurt by a car on the pavement outside a Morpeth church.

And the Minister of St George’s United Reformed Church is among the pedestrians who have needed to take evasive action because of vehicles going up the kerb to reach a left turning which takes traffic over the Telford Bridge. Reports to Northumberland County Council about this issue have become more frequent since traffic lights were controversially installed at the junction earlier this year.

Vehicles coming from Dark Lane or the library that want to turn left are not controlled by the lights – they only need to wait if someone is turning right from Bridge Street.

But they are often stuck behind vehicles heading straight ahead, who do need to wait at the lights when they are on red, and a few have become impatient and used part of the pavement to get past.

St George’s Minister Ron Forster has called on the council to take action and officers are looking into the situation. One measure which could be introduced is collapsible bollards.

“I was standing on the pavement outside the church talking to someone with my back turned to the traffic, when the person suddenly told me to watch out because a car was coming,” said Rev Forster. “I was stunned at what happened and gesticulated as politely as I could being a minister to the driver.

“Other residents have told me they’ve seen this happen and it’s concerning because there could be a serious accident. Hopefully, something can be put in place soon to stop it taking place.”

“Another issue I’ve noticed is that more people are crossing the road at the pedestrian lights when they are on green and there is a gap because it is taking longer for them to turn red when they press the button.

“They are trying to help drivers in a way, but it would be awful to see someone misjudge the traffic turning right from the bridge and being hit.”

Mike Scott, Head of Sustainable Transport at the county council, said: “The issue of cars going on the pavement at St George’s Church has been identified in the independent safety audit commissioned by the developer, and measures to improve matters are now being considered in detail.”

Meanwhile, members of Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee have said it is not clear-cut that the majority of residents are against the traffic lights.

Coun Ken Brown said: “It’s a difficult one because some residents have told me they are strongly opposed to the lights and the traffic has got worse, but a number of others believe it is actually better now.”

Coun David Parker added: “Some of the residents I have spoken to in the last couple of weeks are saying the traffic flow is better than when the roundabout was in place, although they are not saying that the lights are working as well as they could be.”