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Council officials persist in "misguided and mistaken" traffic scheme in Gosforth

February 27, 2015 12:10 AM
By Henry Gallagher

Ever since the roundabout at the junction of Hollywood Avenue and the High Street was changed to traffic lights Gosforth Liberal Democrats have been shocked by the traffic problems we have seen on Hollywood Avenue and the Great North Road, including "near misses" of children trying to use the pedestrian crossings.

On behalf of us all, Cllr Henry Gallagher has asked the council officers several times about the junction reverting to a roundabout. Surely they can revert while still keeping the road safety and cycling measures in place? They have told him in no uncertain terms that they will not do it. Despite all of this, we are writing to Ged Bell, the Cabinet Member responsible for investment and projects like this, asking him to intervene to put a hold on the rest of the scheme. We are asking for a meeting of Gosforth Councillrs and him to discuss the issue.

The trouble is that in the view of Officers, once all the other changes are in place the High Street will run more smoothly. We strongly disagree with this. There are political decisions being made here by the ruling party on the council on what is increasingly being seen as a misguided and mistaken scheme.

Here's just one of the responses we had from officers to requests for a formal review :

"There is no fixed legal requirement to do so, however we will keep an eye on things. We are in a fortunate position that the Gosforth corridor is monitored by our UTMC system through ANPR cameras so that we can look at current speed and flow characteristics between Broadway and the Town Moor. We will also keep an eye on the KSI data (killed seriously injured) alongside the traffic data but we expect the KSI's to drop. The works have to be considered as a whole; picking individual junctions insolation is pretty pointless as some junctions on the corridor will not perform as well as others but the overall performance improves as it was designed as a corridor." This is unacceptable.

The High Street is a strategically important route for the city. The changes throughout the length of the road are being made to keep the High Street / Great North Road moving for the benefit of the city as a whole, at the expense of Gosforth, its residents and traders. We shall continue with our regular liaison meeting with local businesses so both sides maintain a clear view of the impact of alterations and plans.

"If the changes to the High Street lead to the road flowing better but all the side roads being grid locked then the scheme is a failure, " said Henry. "Ironically we were looking to install a speed feedback sign on Hollywood Avenue to encourage drivers to slow down. Thanks to this one junction change frankly the traffic would no longer register on the radar."

Photos have been recived from residents unable to get out of their drives on Hollywood Ave. Councillors have seen cars queuing to get out of other streets such as Fernwood Avenue. We have even received a video of cars going through a red light while a young lad was crossing the Great North Road.

Lets be honest, this was always an awkward junction. However now it has created a nightmare for all of us. We have great fears about the rest of the Gosforth transport scheme, especially when you consider there are far more major changes to made later this year.

The Evening Chronicle has published a story quoting residents' points of view too at http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/watch-newcastle-traffic-chaos-grinding-8727954