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Call to get rid of traffic lights in Braunton

By This is NorthDevon  |  Posted: September 05, 2009

  • TRAFFIC PROBLEM: Martin Cassini wants to solve Braunton's traffic problems by getting rid of the lights in the Square. Picture: Mike Southon 0708-119-12

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A CAMPAIGNER wants to turn off the traffic lights in Braunton and let motorists decide who should go first.

TV producer Martin Cassini campaigns for road traffic reforms and wants to trial a revolutionary no traffic lights scheme at the Square in Braunton, switching off the current four-way system.

Braunton Parish Council invited him to a meeting last Monday where he gave a presentation.

Thousands of tourists head through Braunton for Saunton, Croyde, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe during the summer months, which leads to regular congestion in and around the village.

Some Braunton councillors say no traffic lights could help alleviate this congestion.

Mr Cassini told the


: "In a nutshell I am trying to change the culture from priority to equality so everyone gets a fair crack of the whip.

"I am certain, as certain as I can be, it will make the world a better place.

"Rather than spend money on negative control culture and turn South Street into a no entry let's launch a Junction Efficiency Trial (JET).

"Let's launch a JET and put Braunton on the map and put our faith back in everyone."

Mr Cassini appeared on Newsnight in 2008 and has launched a campaign called Fit Roads.

He also featured Braunton in a recent road safety video.

He said: "Human nature means we are perfectly capable of acting without junction management. You see this when lights are out of action.

"We take care and follow slowly like we do in other walks of life.

"Since the beginning of time humans have managed to move without fail and based on two principles, to survive and to not harm others.

"When lights are out of action people begin to act based on common sense and courtesy.

"It doesn't mean there will never be accidents but all the evidence suggests - particularly from Drachten in Holland where there is such a scheme - that incidences of accidents and congestion virtually disappear."

Braunton Parish Council now plans to write to Devon County Council asking for its solution on the Square and its opinion on having no traffic lights.

Roy Lucas, the chairman of North Devon Council and a Braunton parish councillor, said: "This could help alleviate the situation. When the lights are taken out, everything slows and we abide by the rules of the road, giving way to the right."

Chairman of the council Caroline Chugg said: "We will say to Devon County Council that doing nothing is not an option.

"The current congestion in Braunton is horrendous."

It is understood an agreement with Tesco means the supermarket giant could give money towards a traffic scheme in Braunton.

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    Richard Marsh, Braunton  |  September 11 2009, 11:19AM

    Firstly can I say that as a 'local' I am broadly in agreement with Martin's suggestions and that the idea that his proposals should be dismissed out of hand because he is an 'outsider' are quite narrow-minded. Often 'outsiders bring a different perspective to a problem that is missed by those living close to it. I have long thought that removing the lights and painting a mini-roundabout at the Cross would help traffic flow. Local people will tell you that traffic flows more smoothly when the lights are out of action. In addition removing the lights will free up space in the middle of the village and allow traffic to Saunton, Croyde, and Georgeham to filter off to the left thus easing congestion. Accidents are far more likely to happen when people are speeding to beat the lights when,for instance, they have been held up by a red pedestrian light at Somerfields whilst the traffic light has been on green at the Cross. What I would not like to see happen is:- 1. A bypass over the Great Field simply because it's flat and convenient for Tescos. It would carry holiday traffic for six weeks of the year and would not alleviate the real problem which is the volume of traffic proceeding to Ilfracombe. In addition there are many who see the Field as part of our national heritage and I feel we should be prepared for a massive diruption to our daily lives as people arrive from all over the country to protect it should we decide to put a road through it. 2.Please no Bus Lane as someone has suggested. In a situation where space is limited the last thing we need to do is prioritise space which will not be in anything like constant use. This will simply increase congestion. So as a first, simple step let's get rid of the lights and see if it works. I am fairly confident that it will if our councillors are bold enough to take that decision. If it does then why not,at a later date, open out the whole of the centre of the village so that it can be used by pedestrians and vehicles on an equal basis. I used to live in Ashford, Kent where the volume of traffic is far heavier than it is here and where a scheme of this sort has worked successfully. Martin mentions places on the continent where this has been done but I have no first hand knowledge of these. And to the contributor who is concerned for the welfare of the old people we have in the village can I say this. Firstly I will be one soon, some say I already am!, and I'm not concerned myself, and secondly , I have been escorting my 90 year old mother across roads for some time now and I have never been anything other than impressed by the tolerance of motorists as they allow her to cross the road at her own speed.

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    Davie, Rotherham  |  September 09 2009, 1:41PM

    is this guy for real????? I stayed in Barnstaple and use to travel to Ilfracombe, and if it's the corner where am thinking about, then these lights are improtant I would like to know what tv program this guy produces, "JUST FOR LAUGHS" I can only imagine get a life matey

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    Snooper, Devon  |  September 09 2009, 7:47AM

    Why bother turning the light's off, just build a by-pass for Braunton so traffic doesn't have to waste time passing through the town to get to somewhere else, most likely Ilfracombe. Certainly the traffic lights are the problem, so either by-pass the place or close one or more of the roads that access the main route through.

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    sam, braunton  |  September 07 2009, 5:29PM

    regardless of the for and against arguments etc at least give it ago for an experimental eriod of say one or two months. it could be done with a policeman/woman/person present but not highly visible just in an observation role.When pottington lights were out of action a year or two ago I was amazed at how courteous drivers were when faced with an increased risk of collision!

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    Lez, Braunton  |  September 07 2009, 2:56PM

    You should be in Hillsview on an evening and see the traffic that is along the road,most of it going to Ilfracombe, because of the hold up at the lights in Caen street.Also you take your life in your hands crossing that junction as a lot drivers jump the lights in frustration.

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    Martin Cassini, Ilfracombe  |  September 07 2009, 11:16AM

    To those who say unregulated self-control would be chaos or would never work - how do you know, have you ever tried it? Outside the anti-social box marked priority, a level playing-field awaits, where everyone is free to use commonsense to filter on opportunity. Prevailing attitudes would change from "Get out of my way!" to "After you." The vast majority, when given a choice, are co-operative. It's in our nature. Trouble is, the current system removes choice and subverts our better nature. As for "the maniacs", you can't even legislate for them, so why hobble the vast majority with one-size-fits-all rules devised to catch the hypothetical deviant? In the live-and-let-live public realm I envisage, it doesn't matter if a corner is blind. The human brain - our greatest resource - will see to it that people approach carefully. I proposed these ideas to Ilfracombe but they haven't been taken up. Ilfracombe has lights that would be equally redundant under mutual tolerance and self-control, but it doesn't have congestion problems like Braunton, so it's not seen as an issue. Volume of traffic can be a drama, but volume + controls = crisis. By the way I'm happy to put my life where my mouth is and be the first to step out into traffic if and when the lights are switched off.

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    JayOK, Braunton  |  September 07 2009, 9:47AM

    Why can't the Police/Traffic Wardens do the job at peak times?? All they need is a soap box, a whistle and hand signals. Works in other countries....

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    Sarah, Braunton  |  September 07 2009, 9:43AM

    The traffic lights in Braunton work fine, it's the pure amount of traffic on the roads that causes the problems. 25yrs ago there weren't 2 cars to every household! I think that making South Street a one way street is an excellent idea, although making it one way from the square to Tesco isn't. South Street is becoming an increasingly heavily used street as a shortcut and for access to Tesco, it's just not designed to deal with heavy traffic. In these days of ridiculously oversized vehicles it's increasingly difficult for motorists and pedestrians to use the road safely. Making it one way from Tesco to the square will allow access for residents to the car park or to the village and allow safe passage for all. Perhaps these people should ask the residents about the problems they face and any solutions rather than creating a problem that isn't there just to 'fix' it and make things worse!

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    Andy, Braunton  |  September 06 2009, 9:53PM

    Yes Martin it would work on most junctions where visability is 100% but in ths case it's 0% on one junction and therefore won't work and how will you feel when some old lady is knocked down by a car because it was a free for all?

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    Martin, Barnstaple  |  September 06 2009, 8:56PM

    Re comment from Martin Cassini which states Ilfracombe as his location, why not try this is your home town or have you? Was it just as well recieve as this idea or is it just a case of not in my back yard to make sure your family are not caught up in any problems if things don't go quite to plan? Blind junctions and often impatient motorists, cyclists not forgetting pedestrians I can't see this working here, try pulling out of a side road at peak times to realise that maybe after a few minutes wait not all road users are as considerate as you would like to belive they are. An answer to these few weeks of chaos at the right price would be great but surely since we are a race that doesn't barge in front of others at a cashpoint or shop counter we won't mind a small delay at traffic lights?