THE ongoing saga of controversial traffic lights in the heart of South Shields town centre has taken a new route.
The lights, at the junction of Ocean Road and Anderson Street, have attracted fierce criticism from drivers since they were installed earlier this year.
It has been claimed they have been responsible for huge queues of up to 100 vehicles and longer journey times.
Council chiefs launched a review of the set-up after a petition from more than 500 residents and drivers demanded they were axed, amid calls for the reinstatement of a roundabout at the junction.
Town Hall bosses monitored traffic flows at the location over the traditionally busy May Bank Holiday weekend, before deciding on a course of action.
But in an apparent bid to reduce traffic congestion at the controversial roundabout new diversion signs have been put in place.
One of the ‘alternative route’ signs is located in Beach Road and Anderson Street, directing vehicles away from the junction towards Littlehaven and Haven Point on the coast.
The second diversion, from Ocean Road to Seafield Terrace, directs traffic towards Gateshead/Newcastle and the A194 and A19.
But one motorist has e-mailed the Gazette to claim the new diversion signs have resulted instead in a build-up of traffic along the alternative routes.
He says: “The council in their wisdom have placed signs at the junction of Seafield Terrace and Ocean Road, indicating an alternative route out of town, and also the Anderson Street and the Beach Road roundabout, indicating an alternative route to the coast and Ocean Road.
“This has made that route very busy which, in turn, has created safety issues for pedestrians and also vehicle traffic problems from the volume using the alternative routes, due to vehicles parked both sides of the road.
“The signs are still in place, are they to become a permanent fixture or can we expect additional sets of traffic lights?”
Coun John Wood, Labour representative for Beacon and Bents, believes the signage “has helped” relieve the pressure on the junction.
He said: “Better signage was one of the things I asked for the officers to consider in the first place.
“It may be okay for local people to find alternative routes out of the own, but it’s not so easy for visitors. I do believe it has helped”.