Over two years' worth of temporary traffic lights on Torrington roads in only five years
TEMPORARY traffic lights have blighted roads in Torrington for more than 750 days in the past five years, the Journal can reveal.
A Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Journal has revealed that for 763 days a number of the town's roads have been subjected to blockages and delays as a result of the lights.
And one of the main roads connecting one side of the town to the other, New Street, has borne the brunt of the lights. For 406 days between November 2007 and November 2012, more than a year, New Street has had temporary traffic lights in place.
In 2011 traffic lights were on the street for 170 consecutive days between April 4 and September 20, to allow replacement of sections of low pressure mains.
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In 2009 New Street was closed for 75 consecutive days between May 18 and July 31 to put in 30 metres of trenching in the tarmac footway.
Other works in New Street have included repairs to leaking pipes, digging trenching for underground cables and dealing with gas leaks.
Calf Street, which follows on from New Street, has had 104 days of traffic lights in the same five-year period.
At times traffic lights were in place in New Street and Calf Street, meaning drivers had to go through two sets just to get from one side of Torrington to the other.
The figures received from Devon County Council only cover utility works and do not provide details for any highways work such as road resurfacing, meaning there were potentially many more days with temporary lights which were not recorded.
Louise Banfield, who owns Function Fitness gym in Torrington, said: "Whenever traffic lights are put up it affects the amount of people who can access the gym."
"I also have a Pilates studio in Barnstaple, so when there are traffic lights up it takes me so much longer to get there.
"As we live in Castle Street we can't get out of town to get to work as it's gridlocked. Castle street is essentially a dead end so we have no alternative."
Torrington town councillor Geoff Lee believes the lights would not have had to be in place for so long had repair works been done earlier.
"You could say the reason this has happened in this five-year period demonstrates a lack of commitment by various agencies to upgrade things," he said.
"There have been difficulties along New Street in particular which have resulted in digging up the road and repairing pipes and inevitably lights would have to be placed there."
He said that development to the east of the town in areas such as Burwood and Kingsmead has increased the number of people using the roads.
"Torrington was not designed to cope with what we are doing in terms of traffic," he said.
Devon County Council spokesman, Mike Bomford, said: "These lights are all for essential works carried out by utility companies, which include repairs or upgrades to water, gas, electricity, or telecommunications supplies.
"Utility companies have a statutory right to install and maintain their apparatus and therefore we can't unreasonably refuse them permission.
"We co-ordinate the work and give the companies instructions with a view to keeping traffic moving and minimising overall disruption, and they have a duty to co-operate in this process.
"In 2011 Wales and West undertook the replacement of the gas main in New Street, which was essential to maintain the safe and secure supply of gas to the area."