Idea would cause chaos

It is with increasing concern that we read again proposals to convert the Old Bridge in Berwick-upon-Tweed solely into a cycle path.

Friday, 2nd September 2016, 8:00 am

Is Northumberland County Council considering causing more chaos in the town centre by closing to vehicles a very important exit route from the town?

The notion that the weight of traffic use can be sacrificed for a future imaginary multitude of cyclists using the National Cycle Network is a fanciful idea – the figures just don’t stack up when studying just who actually uses the Old Bridge on a day to day basis.

Or, is the idea another way for the county council to save money and avoid investing in our town?

Not content with selling off some of our best known buildings and moving the Tourist Information off the main street, is it now planning to cut back on funds earmarked for work on the Old Bridge out of the £6.7million Government Challenge Funding received for the county’s bridge repairs?

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The Royal Tweed Bridge has a clearly marked, designated, off-road pathway for cyclists, bringing them into the very centre of the town, and cyclists can currently still use the Old Bridge, only having to dismount when riding into the town.

Also, as stated before, if all the traffic that currently uses the Old Bridge had to turn round and drive back through Berwick there would very likely be added traffic chaos at the junction by the Town Hall.

Additional vehicles on Marygate would add to the problems already caused by some careless car parking, which sometimes reduces traffic flow to just one lane.

It would only take one incident, such as the blocking of the road next to the Town Hall by an articulated wagon on the afternoon of Saturday, August 27, to bring the town to a standstill.

We wrote of our worries on this issue in the Berwick Advertiser on March 24, supported by four traffic surveys conducted at different times of the day. During the last week we have carried out three more traffic surveys, of 30 minutes each, to add weight to our arguments and to counteract claims that the use of the Old Bridge “would probably not be greatly missed”.

On Friday, August 26 (am) 127 motor vehicles and five bicycles were recorded.

On Saturday, August 27 (pm) there were 125 motor vehicles, including two community buses, one police car and one ambulance, and three bicycles.

On Monday, August 29 (am) 102 motor vehicles and three bicycles were recorded.

Maintaining the Old Bridge for vehicular use is vital for the welfare of businesses, locals and visitors to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The real cost of losing the Old Bridge to traders, shops and residents will be loss of revenue in and around Bridge Street and more traffic chaos as vehicles return back into town after some kind of bizarre turn around in an area of town where there is already congestion.

We strongly urge Coun Goodyear to reconsider his stance on the future of the Old Bridge and not acquiesce to Northumberland County Council’s plans to cause even more problems in Berwick.

And we sincerely hope the county council will realise the importance of repairing the bridge to a standard fit for the continued use of vehicular traffic.

Phil and Margery Noble

Berwick-upon-Tweed