HUNDREDS of people have grasped the opportunity to have their say on Morpeth traffic lights.
The Lights Out campaign group launched a survey last week to seek public opinion on the signals at Telford Bridge after it was suggested that a ‘silent majority’ had no problem with them.
The questionnaire was also published in the Herald to give our readers the chance to join in the debate.
And from initial results more than 95 per cent of respondents dislike the lights and say a roundabout would be better.
Less than two per cent like them and just over two per cent had no view.
Lights Out founder member David Clark said: “The survey was prompted by comments made by Northumberland county councillor Andrew Tebbutt at the last Traffic Management Review meeting when he told Lights Out members that he felt there is a silent majority in Morpeth who like, or don’t mind the lights.
“We’ve been looking for them, but haven’t found them yet.”
A survey conducted by the group in Morpeth town centre on Saturday collected 218 responses, with 209 people saying they disliked the lights. Two people liked them and seven had no view.
Of those questioned, 95 per cent wanted a roundabout to replace the lights, with 93 per cent saying the signals had led to more congestion, while 82 per cent believe they pose a danger to pedestrians, 78 per cent say they are a danger to road users and 77 per cent think they are ugly.
There is also worrying information for traders as 37.5 per cent of respondents living in the Morpeth postcode area said they were shopping less frequently in the town since the lights were installed, rising to 52 per cent of respondents who live outside the area.
Survey forms submitted to the Herald show a similar pattern.
A total of 113 forms have been handed in to our office, of which 108 (95.6 per cent) were from people who dislike the lights and would prefer a roundabout. Four people (3.5 per cent) like the lights and one (0.9 per cent) had no view.
All of those against the signals said they had increased congestion, while 89 per cent of respondents said they are a danger to pedestrians, 81 per cent think they are dangerous for road users and 74 per cent said they are ugly and diminish the street scene.
Other comments referred to the lights creating rat-runs, being unnecessary and a waste of money, increasing pollution from exhaust fumes, causing confusion, deterring shoppers from coming to Morpeth and having design faults.
There was also concern that there had been no consultation before they were installed and that the pedestrian crossing beeps are too quiet.
A worrying 64 per cent of respondents said they do not shop in Morpeth as much as they did before the lights.
Morpeth Antiquarian Society has also stated its opposition to the signals and the concrete safety barriers in place.
Lights Out Chairman David Towns said: “The fact we’ve collected several hundred responses in such a short time-frame speaks volumes in itself, but we will continue asking the community for its views until all of our survey forms are filled in.
“It is an open, genuine and honest survey, which is recording all views and it is open to anyone to take part.”
The survey is now available online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/YQM3MKM
A workshop will be held on Monday as part of the Morpeth Traffic Review.
The session has been called by consultant Phil Jones, who is reviewing the entire traffic network of the town, to hear from various groups about any problems with the lights and changes they would like to be considered.
Mr Jones is expected to complete his preliminary analysis and make initial conclusions by March 25, but a final report will not be made until after May elections, which the county council says will allow time to consider the impact of the new Morrisons store at Dark Lane.