Waste of cash claim as lights ripped out

Traffic lights at the junction of Carlisle St and Spital Hill
Traffic lights at the junction of Carlisle St and Spital Hill
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Traffic lights costing up to £100,000 are removed

TRAFFIC lights installed at a cost of up to £100,000 are being ripped out and the junction closed - as part of a Tesco development.

The signals were only erected in 2007 where Carlisle Street meets Spital Hill as part of a bus priority scheme, despite officials knowing road layouts would be changed as part of the supermarket scheme and Carlisle Street closed off to form a new public square.

Normally, signals are designed to last for at least 20 years before replacement.

Details of the supermarket development were announced the same year but discussions had taken place between Tesco and council officials for some time before then.

Cones were placed across the junction yesterday and the lights switched off, ahead of their removal. A separate junction will be built nearby on Spital Hill as an entrance to the Tesco.

An AA spokesman said: “A set of lights such as this, which has traffic detectors and is linked to an urban traffic control system, would cost £50,000 to £100,000. For it to have been built so soon before the junction is due to be closed sounds like bad forward planning.

“Many motorists will wonder whether there are better ways their money could have been spent, especially when there have been pothole problems in recent years.”

Rob Prior, 42, of Broomhill, a company director and member of Sheffield Motorists’ Forum, said: “The situation could be construed as wasteful. I object to paying for bus priority measures in any case when the service gets worse and fares are high.”

Carlisle Street was permanently closed at the junction with Spital Hill at the weekend, for the area to be redeveloped as Caborn’s Corner - a scheme funded by Tesco.

The traffic lights will be dismantled and re-used at a new junction between Spital Hill and an entrance to Tesco, with the removal and reinstatement paid for by the supermarket firm.

Caborn’s Corner will have new paving, landscaping as well as new public seating and public art, while providing pedestrian access to the new retail development which is due to open later this year.

It is a small triangle of land on the junction of Spital Hill and Carlisle Street which was named in honour of trade unionist, George Caborn, who led rallies and demonstrations to the town hall from the location during the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Sheffield Council said the fact the traffic lights are being reinstated means the sets have not been wasted. A spokeswoman said the decision was made to install the lights at the Spital Hill and Carlisle Street junction because, at the time, the Tesco store did not have planning permission and was not a certainty.