Public urged to speak up on town traffic lights

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A SURVEY will take place across Morpeth to give people the chance to state their feelings on controversial traffic lights.

The initiative has been organised by the Lights Out campaign group to seek public opinion on the Telford Bridge signals, which were installed last year.

Hundreds of people have already protested about the lights in a march through the town and by speaking out at two public meetings, while dozens of letters have been submitted to the Herald complaining about the junction.

However, it has been suggested by town and county councillor Andrew Tebbutt that a silent majority of residents are unconcerned about the signals.

The survey aims to find out how Morpeth residents, businesses and shoppers really feel about the issue, and the results will help to inform an ongoing traffic review in the town.

It asks whether people like or dislike the lights, and if they are not in favour, why not? It also questions whether people’s shopping habits have changed as a result of the signals and if they think a roundabout would be better.

Lights Out Chairman David Towns said: “At a recent meeting of the Traffic Review Steering Group, Coun Tebbutt stated that there is a silent majority in Morpeth who have no problem whatsoever with the traffic lights.

“Personally, I haven’t witnessed any marches or petitions in favour of them, but Lights Out is more than happy to try to track down people who do like the lights by being honest and by asking thousands of residents what they actually think, something neither the council nor Coun Tebbutt has done.”

He added: “Although we are actively participating in the traffic review process, the council should be under no illusions that our campaign will eventually go away. We will continue to fight for the community’s views to be heard.”

The lights were installed to replace a mini-roundabout at the junction to cope with an expected increase in traffic when a new supermarket opens off Dark Lane later this year.

Northumberland County Council highways officials approved the system, which was funded by developer Dransfield Properties.

However, the lights have met with fierce criticism, with objectors saying they are dangerous, unsightly and have added to congestion.

The complaints prompted the council to commission independent consultant Phil Jones to conduct a review of the Morpeth traffic network, including the junction, and meetings have been taking place with interested parties.

Coun Tebbutt said: “I chair the transport review group, which was agreed by all parties, and we await the outcome of that review, which is proceeding.

“When that review is completed the council will act on the outcome, based on the findings by the experts.

“I don’t have further comment to make until that review is completed.”

Lights Out has printed 2,000 survey forms and will present the results of the feedback to Mr Jones.

Campaigners will be conducting the survey in Morpeth this weekend and on further days until all forms have been filled in.

The Herald has agreed to publish the questionnaire to enable our readers to play a full part in the debate and to clarify how local people really view the re-modelled junction.

Our Newgate Street office will also serve as a drop-off point for completed forms.