Seeing red over traffic lights

TRAFFIC light misery is continuing to cause concern in Morpeth.

Last week the Herald reported calls from members of the public for a mini-roundabout to be re-installed in Bridge Street at the junction with Telford Bridge following long tailbacks from the new lights.

Morpeth town councillors also hit out at the failure of the new system, but Northumberland County Council’s highways officers said they were confident it will work ‘once it settles down’.

However, this week residents have continued to voice their anger at the introduction of the lights and local business say trade has been affected.

Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade spokesman Ken Stait said: “Business has suffered.

“We thought that we had bounced back quite nicely after the roadworks had finished, but unfortunately the experience has been that we have still had some tough times.

“It is the fact that the traffic lights seem to be causing a bit of congestion at times when we didn’t used to get congestion.

“However, this week I have been through the lights a few times and it does seem to be getting a little bit better so we hope they are starting to get on top of the situation.”

Members of the Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee have also spoken out.

Morpeth Mayor Phil Taylor said: “If there was a sign that said ‘filter left’ it would be better because I don’t think people know that if the lights are on red for going straight across Bridge Street you can still turn left onto the bridge. There were two cars in front of me the other day and the lady at the front was just sitting there.”

But Coun Richard Thompson said that signage alone will not solve the problems.

“If you are coming from the north from the Pegswood area and there are a number of cars going straight along Bridge Street the left filter doesn’t work anyway and I don’t see how that is going to change even with new road markings and signs,” he said.

“If you are coming from the south over Telford Bridge there often seems to be a queue of traffic going right up the bank. I came into Morpeth at 11 o’clock at night and had to stop at the lights, even though there was nothing else on the road, while previously I would have been off round the other side of Morpeth.

“I imagine that the tailbacks of traffic are causing an impact on Morpeth because it is quiet. I don’t know how much traffic is going up Kirkhill, but there seems a dearth of traffic going through the town, then if you get a bit of traffic it is quickly built up.

“If there is this amount of traffic problems people are going to have to cycle more, but there are no cycle lanes at the traffic lights.”

He added that there is also concern about the narrow width of the junction for buses and lorries.

Committee Chairman Graeme Trotter said: “Whether it is settling down and it is just teething issues, we don’t know, but we need to monitor it.

“The last thing we want is for people to think they don’t want to go to Morpeth because they can never get in. It is really important for the town and the trade in the town that this doesn’t happen.”

The town council has requested that a county highways officer attends a meeting to discuss the issues with councillors if the situation does not improve.

Northumberland County Council says the new system is being monitored and adjustments have already been made.

Head of Sustainable Transport Mike Scott said: “It is important to emphasise that the situation is being monitored regularly.

“New road markings are now in place following resurfacing works to make the operation of the junction easier to follow and reduce confusion for motorists. The signal timings at the junction are under regular review to ensure that they are working as efficiently as possible and one set of adjustments has already been made.

“The signals have been installed to accommodate the extra traffic which is expected when the new supermarket opens.”