Graham Newman says no to part-time traffic lights before Travel Ipswich project is completed – but Ben Gummer backs proposal

Graham Newman

Graham Newman - Credit: Archant

Could switching off traffic lights during off-peak hours in Ipswich ease the town’s congestion problems?

As the unfinished Travel Ipswich project continues to frustrate people that is one proposal being put forward to the government – and it’s won the support of the town’s MP Ben Gummer.

The idea has come from the Tory East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight, who urged transport minister John Hayes to follow in the footsteps of other countries and shut down traffic lights during off-peak hours.

Sir Greg asked Mr Hayes if he was aware people “travelling at non-rush hour times often find themselves stuck in a traffic jam at traffic lights for no reason whatsoever?”

Ipswich MP Mr Gummer said he supported the idea – but Suffolk county councillor Graham Newman was sceptical.

Travel Ipswich has been criticised for seemingly causing more, not less, chaos in the town and for the introduction of several new sets of traffic lights.

Mr Newman, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member responsible for roads, defended the project last month and said the claims of chaos were exaggerated.

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Yesterday he said there was no point considering part-time signals until Travel Ipswich had been completed.

“We have a system, we really have to see it through,” Mr Newman said.

“Obviously things are not finished at the moment.

“We need to see that in operation. It probably won’t be in operation fully for six months but we are getting there.”

On Sir Greg’s proposal he added: “People do raise these things from time to time, the problem is there is no way of guessing what the outcome of that might be.

“A couple of months ago the traffic lights went out near Ipswich station.

“The traffic did flow quite well but you had people coming out of the station with no control, you’ve got pedestrians jaywalking across the road.

“That’s something that concerns me about doing it in the centre of Ipswich. It is not just about cars.

“There are some places with no lights like the roundabout near the Novotel that get jammed up every night.”

If part-time signals were to be introduced Mr Newman said he “would like to see it tried somewhere else busier than Ipswich” before it was tried in Suffolk’s county town.

“There is no proof this would work in a very tight, very narrow town centre like Ipswich,” he added.

But Ipswich MP Ben Gummer disagreed with Mr Newman saying it is an operation which works perfectly well in other countries.

“I think it is a good idea,” Mr Gummer said. “They do it in Amsterdam in Holland.

It works there and they trust people to make decisions.

“I think its a good idea and I would be happy to trial it in Ipswich.

“There is no point waiting for a traffic light if there is no one else waiting at the crossing.

“It works in very narrow roads in Holland and we should trust people to make their own decisions.”

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