It could be lights out for signals

Lights Out executive team looking smug at the lights, David Clark, David Towns, Bob Robertson
Lights Out executive team looking smug at the lights, David Clark, David Towns, Bob Robertson

CONTROVERSIAL traffic lights could be coming out after consensus was reached for a trial period without them.

Campaigners against the Telford Bridge signals are sensing victory in their battle to have the lights permanently removed following support for the trial at a stakeholders’ meeting.

Members of the Lights Out group argued that as there has been time to fully assess the junction with the signals, which were installed last April, there should now be the chance to study it without them.

The suggestion found broad support at the session on Monday and will now be considered by independent consultant Phil Jones, who is conducting a review of the lights and the wider Morpeth traffic network.

Lights Out member Bob Robertson said: “We were asked by the council to give the lights time to bed in.

“We suggested that having given it time to prove to us that the lights worked, we deserved time to prove that the roundabout worked better by removing the lights as an experiment.

“We’re delighted that Phil looked upon this suggestion very favourably and we are increasingly confident that he will recommend this is done and that the lights will be coming out sooner rather than later.”

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council, which commissioned the review, confirmed the proposal was being considered.

She said: “Along with several other suggestions, there was considerable support from the group for removing the traffic lights at the end of Telford Bridge on a trial basis and this will be considered by the consultant and the council along with the rest of the suggestions.”

The meeting, which was attended by town and county councillors, school staff, business representatives, emergency services, transport groups and community organisations, discussed problems with the traffic network, as well as what works well and how it could be affected by future development.

However, the Telford Bridge lights, which have met with widespread public opposition including a protest march, petition and public meetings, were the main focus.

The meeting heard that the council’s own evidence showed that traffic volumes at the bridge had fallen significantly, with more drivers using residential rat-runs.

Mr Jones said that congestion patterns were unusual, while the junction was tight for larger vehicles.

Lights Out Chairman David Towns said: “We do need to look at the whole town’s network and make allowances for the effect of future development.

“However, what was made clear by Phil Jones was that the council’s own data proves that the lights cause unusual congestion patterns and have probably led to increased use of rat-runs.

“Phil’s own assessment of the junction is that it is too tight for larger vehicles and in our view the safety implications of that are clear to see.

“More importantly for our campaign and for the people of Morpeth was the consensus that the lights could be taken out for an experiment to see if congestion and safety improves.”

A survey about the lights has now been completed by about 1,800 people, including 189 who have submitted responses to the Herald.

It shows about 95 per cent of respondents are against the lights and would prefer a roundabout. Increased congestion is the biggest concern, followed by pedestrian safety, road safety and the visual impact.