CALLS have come loud and clear for Morpeth’s mini-roundabout to be reinstated following weeks of traffic light misery.
The Herald has been inundated with letters from concerned readers criticising the lights at Telford Bridge and town councillors have also voiced their dismay.
This week we went onto the streets of the town to find out what local shoppers had to say.
And the verdict was almost unanimous — get rid of the lights and bring back our roundabout.
John Whittaker, 68, of Longframlington, said: “It is an absolute nightmare. They need to bring back the roundabout.
“The roundabout worked well and everyone knew what was going on. There were small queues at times, but it didn’t cause a problem.
“If we are out somewhere and are approaching Morpeth from the south we either stay on the road and come in from the north or we just give Morpeth a miss. Maybe that is why people are struggling in business. The shopkeepers are telling us it is affecting trade.
“The other point is that the lights just appeared and there didn’t seem to be any consultation beforehand.”
Sharon Patterson, 49, agreed.
“I don’t drive, but my daughter does and she things the lights are really wrong, they don’t work. You don’t know whether to stop at the red light or not when you are going to Newcastle, it is confusing and everyone is being held up. There was nothing wrong with the roundabout, they should bring it back,” she said.
And 73-year-old Neil Halliday said: “The lights are rubbish, it was better the way it was. There was never any hold-ups with the roundabout.
“I live in Pegswood, but I’m in Morpeth two or three times a week and quite often the traffic is all the way past The Sun Inn or up Stobhill bank.”
Clare Easton, 30, was also far from impressed.
“Those traffic lights are the worst thing they could ever have put up,” she said.
“Nobody knows when they can go and it is not managing the traffic. The roundabout was much better. They should bring it back or get a completely different sequence for the lights.
“I have lived in Morpeth since I was born and the roundabout has always done its job.”
Seventy-three-year-old Robert Whall, of Gosforth, said: “The traffic lights are a pain in the neck, they are a nuisance. They haven’t improved the situation.
“The traffic moved swiftly when there was just a little roundabout, but now, I have been held up many times.
“I come here twice a week because I have a disabled daughter and we take her out, but I do find the lights a bother. I would like the roundabout back, the traffic moved well enough with that.”
However, 22-year-old Jennifer Telfer had a different view.
“The lights are ok. I don’t really come through Morpeth that often so it doesn’t really bother me. I know my Dad doesn’t like them, but I’m from Stamfordham so I don’t come to Morpeth very often,” she said.
But Janet Dickson, 48, shared the opinion of others.
“I don’t drive, but my husband is not very happy about the traffic lights. He just says there are no quiet times of the day now because the traffic is always stopped. With the original roundabout you had times like first thing in the morning when it was busy, but the rest of the day things flowed a lot better,” she said.
Sheila Fletcher was also unhappy.
“It is ridiculous,” she said.
“I live in Cramlington, but I come to Morpeth nearly every day and I find some days it can take me five or ten minutes just to get down the bank, then you get down only to be stopped by the pedestrian lights just next to the new traffic lights.
“They need to go back to the old system. The roundabout worked fine.”
Michael Bell, 22, of Pegswood, said: “It has caused a bit more congestion. I used to go through town every day and it wasn’t that difficult, but it is a lot busier now so I tend to avoid the lights.
“The roundabout was better and I would probably like to see that back.”
Alan Plaice, 66, of Morpeth, said there are a number of problems with the lights.
He said: “Before the traffic lights came in at peak times in the morning and late afternoon you had a lot of traffic, but outside those times the traffic moved quite freely because of the roundabout. If you came to the roundabout and nothing was coming you could just keep moving. Now there could be nothing coming and you are stuck at a red light and unfortunately it is causing tailbacks up to Stobhill.
“The traffic is there all day long whereas before, when it was just a roundabout, the traffic moved a lot easier.
“There also seems to be a problem with pedestrian crossings. If the traffic lights are on green and the pedestrian lights are on red the traffic just can’t move.
“One of the problems now is that traffic is using the back roads to avoid the lights, but they weren’t designed for the heavy traffic that is now using them. We have buses and wagons going round and cutting the side of the road up.
“It would have been nice if they had got the views of the people who live in the town before they put these traffic lights up. I don’t think they have looked very far ahead.”
Mr Plaice said the new lights are also confusing drivers as to who has priority when they are on green, and there is no sign to tell people to filter left onto Telford Bridge from Dark Lane, which is causing frustration.
He added: “I don’t know what the answer is and the longer it goes on we may come to accept the lights, but I still think the roundabout kept traffic moving better.”