Call for council to justify scheme

One of the design images for the streetscape project in Stobhill that will create a new look at a crossroads area.
One of the design images for the streetscape project in Stobhill that will create a new look at a crossroads area.

Concerns have been raised about the cost of a streetscape scheme in an area of Morpeth.

The pilot project in Stobhill, which is set to start later this year, will result in a new look for the key crossroads area at the junction of Shields Road, Jobling Crescent and Third Avenue.

The ‘shared space’ initiative was won for the area by Stobhill county councillor Ian Lindley from a capital funding stream set aside for the ‘civilised design’ approach.

It will involve removing some pavements and road markings to create an open space for both pedestrians and vehicles and supporters of the concept say that the layout will result in many drivers reducing their speed.

But after speaking to the authority to get more information, one of the area’s town councillors, Alison Byard, is unhappy with the location.

She said that it will cost £280,000 and the attendance for a consultation event earlier this year was single figures.

Coun Byard added: “A year ago, Morpeth Town Council suggested several areas in the town centre where this ‘shared space’ scheme could be trialled, such as Chantry Place or Stanley Terrace by the bus station, but were told that there was insufficient funding.

“Shields Road was only resurfaced in September 2014 and the resurfacing was planned to last 20 years, so whether you think the concept is a good idea or not, is it really a good idea to dig up the same place two years later?

“I don’t really see the need for this scheme and I feel even stronger about it after finding out the cost. Can the council justify spending £280,000 on this at a time when it has to make major cuts?

“I would like Stobhill residents who have any comments on the scheme, in favour or against, to email me – alisonbyard65@gmail.com”

A spokeswoman for the county council said: “We have been working with Coun Lindley and community representatives to develop a scheme that will improve the environment and streetscape in the area, and improve community cohesion.

“It also aims to slow vehicles down and reduce the dominance of traffic in the area.

“Funding for this shared space scheme will come from the Northumberland Local Transport Plan, which was consulted on through area committees last year.

“We will be using the scheme as a pilot for other areas to test the approach and the scheme is one of several that are being investigated.

“Examples include Bamburgh and Alnwick and other similar potential projects, with the aim of covering a number of different types of street locations.”