Worry over effect on emergency services

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CONCERNS have been raised about the impact of Morpeth’s new lights on emergency services.

Highways officers say they have had no complaints from the services about the Telford Bridge signals.

But at a public meeting last week one former ambulance service worker said there could be problems, particularly if bollards are erected outside St George’s Church to stop vehicles mounting the pavement.

“Were the emergency services consulted on this?” she said. “I was in the ambulance service and I would not want to take an emergency vehicle through there with all the congestion. If you are putting bollards on the corner, where is the traffic going to go or an emergency vehicle going to go if there is an emergency?”

Town councillor Dave Herne said that ambulance drivers have confirmed there are issues.

“They have stated that it is costing the service a lot of extra money because of the delays. If they are on a blue light call they can get through the traffic, but when they are returning back to the station they are being held up in the traffic and the service is having to pay overtime for their staff until they get back to change shifts. It is affecting them and if the bollards were put in I could see it would hinder them further,” he said.

However, county Network Manager Dick Phillips said no problems have been reported and while he has not spoken directly to the emergency service crews, bus companies have said their vehicles are coping.

He said: “I haven’t asked any of the blue light services whether they are having any problems, but I asked the bus people whether their drivers are reporting problems and the answer was no.”

But Coun Herne, who works as a bus driver, had previously stated that the new system was causing delays.

“We have heard that the traffic lights at the junction seem to be working, that the traffic lights make the junction much more effective than a roundabout. As a professional driver I strongly disagree with this. I’m currently a bus driver. Buses are late, not just during the peak times now, but throughout the day,” he said.