HUNDREDS of angry residents have signed a petition over a new traffic lights system in South Shields town centre.
South Tyneside Council replaced a roundabout, between Ocean Road and Anderson Street in South Shields, with a traffic signal-controlled junction on April 7.
Traffic chiefs say they introduced it to improve road safety, and insist the delays have now been dealt with.
But drivers say the overhaul has led to an increase in journey times – with as many as 100 cars stuck in queues waiting for lights to go green.
After drivers flooded the Gazette website with complaints, an online petition has also seen plenty of web traffic.
The petition – set up on the change.org website by South Shields resident Jack Pearce – is calling on South Tyneside Council to reinstate the roundabout by the summer.
It states: “Since changing a perfectly good traffic system by removing the roundabout and replacing it with traffic lights, there are long queues of traffic on Anderson Street, Ocean Road and James Mather Terrace, and this is detrimental to the town centre.
“The journey from the Town Hall lights to Morrisons store is now sometimes in excess of 10 minutes, where before it was about four.”
The petition has already been supported online by more than 300 people.
Tracie Crumbie, from South Shields, wrote on the site: “Why have traffic lights, the previous system worked so much better? There were no traffic flow problems before. Obviously, our council has money to waste.”
Robert Hullah said: “I am not prepared to spend any longer trying to shop in South Shields due to the incompetence of this layout and plan.”
A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “The traffic lights, together with a number of other improvements to Ocean Road, are aimed at providing a more appealing and safer pedestrian crossing for both residents and visitors to the town.
“Since the installation of the traffic lights, we have monitored the situation closely and have made some changes to the phasing of the lights.
“We will continue to monitor the flow of traffic to achieve a good balance of safe crossing times for pedestrians, with minimal waiting times for traffic.”