There seems to be a growing call for change in Hexham – a change back to the way things were before.

Businesses in the area affected by the temporary one-way traffic system came together last week in support of calling an end to the year-long experiment, three months after it started back in August.

They said it was killing trade and claimed 90 per cent of businesses along the route wanted to see the scheme shelved.

The traders’ plea was backed up by residents who responded to their story with a flurry of comments online.

Some people felt that the one-way system, leading motorists into the Market Place via Beaumont Street, and out down Market Street and Gilesgate, with a complete closure of Hallstile Bank, was dangerous due to an increase in the speed of motorists.

Others said it was inconvenient for people wanting a trip into the town centre to use shops and services, causing confusion over where to drive and where to park.

Several business owners were of the opinion that the system was putting visitors off coming into the town centre, because of the inconvenience associated with the system, and that it was adversely affecting their income.

It must be noted that during the summer, Northumberland County Council stressed that the system was temporary and was key to improving social distancing in the town centre and making Hexham more Covid-friendly.

There are other key points to highlight. Last month, the county council reintroduced a two-way system along Beaumont Street only, insisting this was in response to feedback.

And there has been much praise for another element of the scheme – the pedestrianisation of the Market Place once a month to accommodate the popular farmers’ market.

Pedestrianisation had initially been every Saturday, but was later reduced to farmers’ market days only after a weekly pedestrianisation had been deemed unnecessary.

Pedestrianisation is another divisive issue, but despite claims over a lack of consultation, the local authority has always insisted it had listened to the views of all parties.

A county council spokeswoman said: “We have been very pleased to engage with members of the newly-formed business group, including through a recent virtual meeting with their representatives, the three local county councillors and the mayor of Hexham (Coun. Bob Hull).

“At that meeting we discussed the measures in place and the reasoning behind them, and following those discussions made some initial changes. More recently, in the light of feedback received from the group, other emails and letters, and our own monitoring arrangements, we have refined the one-way system further.

“Our CCTV footage has shown that the speed of vehicles has reduced along Market Street as a result of the one-way system, and the further change that now allows vehicles to leave Market Place by either Beaumont Street or Market Street will reduce the numbers of vehicles there further. On visiting and observing the pinch point (on Market Street), our highway safety staff consider that the one-way system has improved road safety in this area.

“We have also had positive feedback from both residents and visitors about the decision to temporarily close Hallstile Bank, which aids social distancing and the safety of pedestrians using this route to access the town centre.”