THE one-way system in Morpeth town centre will be removed on Saturdays and Sundays in a move to help businesses.
The measure was introduced by Northumberland County Council on January 20 so footpath works could be carried out in Bridge Street.
Traders criticised the authority for only publicising it 10 days before it came into effect and they have reported a drop in footfall over the last couple of weeks.
After talking to shop owners, the highways team has decided to take off the restriction at weekends from this Friday night and also increase the personnel working on site where possible. It is expected to be in place for another three to four weeks on weekdays.
But a number of businesses still have concerns because parking charges have not been removed for the remainder of the works period and the one-way route is staying the same – traffic coming into the town over Telford Bridge must turn right.
One of the entrepreneurs in Bridge Street, Patrick Eyres of Bin 21, has written a letter to Dick Phillips, the council’s highways network manager, and the most senior officers at County Hall.
The document includes: “This period has had a greater impact on businesses than the roadworks two years ago, when the flow of traffic in the one-way system turned traffic left over the Telford Bridge into Bridge Street.
“Turning left would have maintained the ‘drop off to shop’ activity, which is now sadly lacking as traffic is forced away from my business and all businesses in Bridge Street by turning right.
“Had the traffic been able to go down Bridge Street, no traffic lights would have been necessary and the queues of traffic would not be happening.
“This is a bizarre and quite frankly commercially ridiculous decision showing a lack of common sense and complete lack of commercial understanding by public sector employees.
“Your concerns over pedestrians at peak times could easily be overcome by re-allocating the person operating the traffic lights to manage the pedestrians at the Manchester Street junction.
“I understand that the roadworks are to be removed on Friday evenings and re-implemented on Mondays to ‘help businesses’. A nice gesture, however, two things concern me.
“Firstly, how are you going to communicate this now that residents and visitors are not expecting it? Are large yellow signs going up at the north and south approaches? Are you broadcasting it in the press and radio?
“Also, this does not help on Monday to Friday, which are equally important.”