Signals are in favour of lights out

AN action group is confident that its campaign to remove a set of controversial traffic lights will take an important step forward tomorrow.

Hundreds of Morpeth residents complained about the signals when they were installed at Telford Bridge in March last year and two public meetings were held to discuss their impact.

Their concerns, which have also been raised by a range of town organisations, include increased congestion, pedestrian and road safety and the visual impact.

They have been considered by independent consultant Phil Jones, who was commissioned by Northumberland County Council to conduct a review of the lights and the wider Morpeth traffic network as a result of the backlash.

He will make his recommendations to the authority tomorrow and the Lights Out group, which has led the protests, is expecting him to say that they should be taken out on a trial basis.

Member David Clark said: “Mr Jones’ direction at the last steering group meeting was for officers to go away and come up with a potential solution which did not include traffic lights, so I’m 99.5 per cent certain that he will recommend that they should be removed.

“There will be a lot of angry people in the town if he says they should stay in place.”

Bob Robertson, a fellow member of the group, will attend tomorrow’s meeting.

“We’re optimistic that he will come up with a positive recommendation, which would be replacing the lights with a roundabout,” he said.

“If this is the case, we hope the county council will take prompt action once it has studied the report.”

Earlier this year, Lights Out asked members of the public to respond to its questionnaire and a total of 2,123 people filled it in. Of those, 2,010 (95 per cent) said they disliked the signals, 67 were in favour of them and 46 had no view.

Almost as many, 93 per cent, said a roundabout would be better.

Meanwhile, the county council has confirmed that two extra bollards outside St George’s United Reformed Church will be installed at the same time as when kerbing works are carried out in the area.

Those using the church and Morpeth Town Council continually raised concerns about vehicles mounting the kerbs after the Telford Bridge junction was changed from a roundabout to a set of traffic lights.

Although one bollard was put in place following discussions with the church, they felt more were needed and another two were subsequently ordered by the Northumberland authority.

It sent a letter to the town council on June 14, which said that officers anticipated them being in place within six weeks, and the Morpeth authority then called for it to wait until Mr Jones unveils his report.

To clarify the situation, a county council spokesman said: “We have kerbing planned for Bridge Street in the near future. We will therefore carry out the works on the bollards at the same time as the kerbing works.”

St George’s Minister Ron Forster said: “Although the current bollard is heavy to take out when we have funerals and weddings, anything to help keep cars off the pavement outside the church is to be welcomed.”