I have followed the Morpeth Traffic Light Fiasco as it’s become known via a Facebook page of the same name and also with your most excellent coverage since last June.
While I have not been very vocal publicly, other than the occasional comment on the Facebook page, I find myself quite incensed by the behaviour of certain local councillors, both town and county, I was absolutely flabbergasted to read in your last issue that the town council and particularly Coun Andrew Tebbutt, is now claiming that the decision to remove the traffic lights was somehow his idea.
I’m sorry, but I’d go so far as to say, at best, it’s just a cynical attempt to get himself votes in the upcoming county council elections. I think the whole of Morpeth knows that Coun Tebbut has been one of the biggest obstacles in having the lights removed much earlier.
I attended the two public meetings at the Town Hall last year. At the end of the first, Coun Tebbutt gave more than 200 people present his word that ‘if, by the time of the next public meeting, the general mood hadn’t changed’, that he ‘would personally issue the order to have them removed’, only to do a total U-turn at the next meeting and pretty much deny that he had ever said this!
More recently, the Lights Out campaigners reported that Coun Tebbutt had personally told them that there was a ‘silent majority’ of Morpethians who actually preferred the lights! This, I believe, acted as the spur for the Lights Out group to take to the streets with their well-publicised traffic light survey. I understand at the time of writing that some 1,800 people have now completed their questionnaire, of whom 95 per cent think that the lights have increased congestion.
This is quite overwhelming evidence and, I believe, the real reason why Coun Tebbutt and other town councillors have now come out in support of the removal of the traffic lights. They now realise (especially so close to re-election time) that they can simply no longer ignore the voice of the ordinary person, although I suspect they have left their change of camp a little too late. The people of Morpeth can’t be fooled that easily. It is for this reason that I believe certain councillors may not be re-elected in May.
I don’t believe there is any place for party politics at town level. It is perfectly obvious that most of the local councillors have been whipped to toe the party line, rather than have the courage of their own convictions. I must make one exception to this – Stobhill councillor Ian Lindley, who has spoken out publicly for as long as I can remember.
We must all learn from this experience and always consider that the people of Morpeth have very strong views about how they would like ‘their’ town run.
Let’s get those ridiculous traffic lights out as soon as possible.
When Larry the Lights Out Lion marched down Bridge Street last summer followed by hundreds of protesters, this was not a political march, it was town telling the ruling administration what they wanted. I am a lifetime Tory supporter, but marched all the way to County Hall with an ex-miner – we were unified by a common cause.
It was suggested recently on the Morpeth Traffic Light Fiasco page that Bob Robertson, one the Lights Out founders who spoke so eloquently at both public meetings, should stand for town councillor in May. Well, he’d certainly get my vote.
Another group member suggested that Larry the Lights Out Lion should also stand! If Hartlepool can have a monkey as Mayor, why can’t Morpeth have a lion as councillor?
How about it Larry?!
MAJOR TIMOTHY JENKINS (Retd)
Address supplied but witheld by consent