Brake put on traffic lights plan for Royal George junction

A busy Saddleworth road junction is unlikely to see the installation of traffic lights after the plan received initial support from local councillors.

Instead they will press ahead for the introduction of other traffic slowing measures at the Royal George crossroads in Greenfield, including a mini roundabout and lower speed limit on Manchester Road.

The crossroads at the Royal George Pub

The Independent has been inundated with comments for and against the idea since revealing last April the junction with Huddersfield Road and Well-i-Hole, was being considered for lights.

The proposal, which could cost as much as £300,000 to come to fruition, found narrow support at Saddleworth Parish Council’s Transport and Traffic sub committee in July.

Councillors sitting on Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership later in the month voted seven to one in favour of lights.

However, the July meeting of Saddleworth Parish Council then decided to pursue other ways of reducing accident totals on the Saddleworth-Tameside border.

Councillor, Cllr Barbara Beeley, said: “During the District Partnership meeting I was very much in favour of traffic lights.

“It is a dangerous junction and there have been accidents there-not always reported to the police.

“But speaking to friends who live near there, they would think a mini roundabout would be a far better option as well as being cheaper.”

Should the speed limit change from 40mph to 30mph?

Cllr Brian Lord added:”I can see the advantage in the traffic lights at busy times.

“You can get a driver who isn’t confident and hangs on at the junction causing a tailback.

“But that would also hit everyone all day because the junction is not a problem. So, I don’t think it would be a good idea to put traffic lights there.”

Saddleworth South councillor, Cllr Jamie Curley: “Traffic lights would be a very costly option.

“However, having discussed this with Highways, the main problem seems to be, as people approach the junction, it is a like a tunnel and people don’t see there is a junction there.

“Something needs to be done to highlight that: perhaps different road surfaces, different coloured road surfaces, more signage on the road.

“To demand traffic lights might be a starting point and if that gets knocked back we have other things to fall back on.”

Fellow Saddleworth South councillor, Cllr Graham Sheldon, added: “The cost of the traffic lights is quite expensive but the suggestion from Cllr Beeley is excellent and I think that is something that could be looked at.”

Councillor John Hudson warned:” I think we are taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

“A simple white line and the word ‘Stop’ when you are coming down Huddersfield Road from Mossley is what’s needed.

“When all these so-called experts bring out these proposals they do away with the old-fashioned things and sometimes it’s the old-fashioned things that cost nothing that prevent accidents.

“We should look at simple ways……and also people should open their
eyes when they are driving.”

Does the junction need stronger road markings?

Councillor Geoff Bayley supported the proposal for introduction of a raised mini roundabout and called for a blanket 30mph speed limit on Manchester Road so removing a small 40 mph stretch.

“A representative from Highways said reducing the speed limit from 40-30 would make no difference to the speed of the traffic. I don’t see where his logic comes from,” he said.

Cllr Lord added:

“We recommend the Highways Department look into a mini roundabout there and also they reduce the speed limit from 40 to 30mph because I think the vast majority of people do abide by speed
limits.”

Cllr Sheldon confirmed: “On this proposal we should ask Highways to do nothing more on the traffic lights until we have investigated other ideas.”

Gary Sutcliffe, Principal Engineer for Unity Highways, told the Roads and Transport Committee there had only been three accidents in three years at the junction investigated by police.

“Those three accidents in three years is not what we call interventionable” he said.

“We have other junctions in the Borough in the same period of time that have 12 accidents.

“If we have to prioritise where we put lights that’s the thing we are up against.

“You might think a set of signals will stop those accidents happening.

“When we did the traffic lights at Crompton Way/ Linney Lane in Shaw, the accident rate didn’t really change. At first the accident rate was a bit higher.

Manchester Road junction with Huddersfield Road and Well-i-Hole Road

“That’s because people still went through red lights, maybe there were some amber gamblers in there.

“Without the lights people took a bit more time or avoided the area completely. You have got to be careful what you wish for.”

Sergeant Neil Barker from Greater Manchester Police said: “It is not from a policing perspective a junction that gives us great cause for concern. Or has it been highlighted to us.”

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