Politicians vow to listen

LOCAL politicians have vowed to listen to the public after giving their own take on Morpeth’s traffic signal saga.

A public meeting about the Telford Bridge lights was organised by the Morpeth and Wansbeck Conservative Association last week as a platform for residents to express their views.

And both Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors were in attendance to give their responses.

Town councillor Dave Herne, of Morpeth South Ward, said he shares residents’ concerns about congestion and the tight turns, as well as the use of rat-runs and the effect on businesses.

“These lights don’t only affect the people driving through my ward on their way to the town centre.

“What about the vehicles using Church Walk and Curly Kews as the rat-run?

“That could explain some of the reasons why the delays at the lights aren’t as bad because people are using that as a cut through. Or it is because they are not coming into the town at all?” he said.

Ponteland county councillor Richard Dodd, whose area covers communities around Morpeth, compared the situation to an episode of crime drama Vera as members try to find out who is responsible for approving the system.

“We are trying to find out who, what and where this was passed,” he said.

He added that it is important to have a cut-off date for revisiting the issue and addressing the problems.

He said: “There comes a time in life when you have to say you were wrong so let’s start by getting a date to come back that says if it is no better by ‘x’ then we are going to do ‘y’. That is what we need.”

Coun David Moore, representing Morpeth North, said the lights should be given more time.

“We are going to see what happens. It is being monitored on a daily basis and we need to give it time. We can’t just pull these traffic lights out after six weeks,” he said.

Town and county councillor Andrew Tebbutt, of Morpeth Kirkhill, also urged people to allow more time for the system to be reviewed, but he said he will listen to the public and if the lights don’t work they should be taken out.

He said: “Nothing in the 12 years that I have been a councillor has even come close to the level of concern that there is about these traffic lights.

“It is not true that I don’t listen because I do listen. I said that if it is right to take these traffic lights away, we will take them out, but I do feel we need to give it time because once they come out they will never go back in again.”

He said councillors took advice from expert officers before the traffic lights were given the go-ahead.

After the meeting, organiser David Bawn said: “The feeling of residents was strong and unanimous – we never asked for these lights and we want them to be removed as soon as possible.”