Pressure is mounting on highways chiefs to reconsider a controversial one-way traffic system which is “sapping the last bit of life out of Hexham.”

Northumberland County Council introduced the changes in August, claiming they were essential to making the town more Covid-friendly.

Hallstile Bank was closed to traffic completely, with vehicles travelling into the Market Place via Beaumont Street, and out via Market Street and Gilesgate. Earlier this month, the council tweaked the system, with a return to two-way on Beaumont Street.

Last week local businesses, which set up a representative group during the summer, said the move was not enough, and that the restrictions had adversely affected trade for months.

And residents have responded to their calls for the system to be reconsidered, with dozens of comments on the Courant’s social media page.

Daphne Threadgold-Reay said it was “sapping the last bit of life out of Hexham”, while Ann Robson urged the council to “please restore the old layout.”

Helen McMahon said: “It doesn’t serve any purpose other than to divert the traffic onto other roads in the town. Our beautiful Market Place looks like a complete eyesore with all of the temporary signage.”

Winifred Anne Varty and Carol Henderson both raised concerns over one-way traffic on Market Street, which included a narrow ‘pinch point’ with pavements on either side.

Marc Hydleman said: "The traffic system has nothing to do with Covid. It was first mooted before the pandemic. It has not helped anybody in Hexham, either traders or the public at large.”

The Rev. Tony Buglass said: “I fail to see the connection between the one-way system and Covid safety. If anything, it has made life more difficult for pedestrians, because traffic coming round from Beaumont Street into Market Street now no longer has to slow down in case of oncoming traffic, so pedestrians are more likely to be pushed on to the narrow pavement at the choke point.

“Either restore two-way traffic, which is busier but has to slow down, or pedestrianise the intersection completely, which would almost certainly cause more problems than it solves.”

There was some support for one element of the scheme which included a temporary pedestrianisation of the Market Place during Saturdays when the monthly farmers’ market is taking place.

A Northumberland County Council spokesperson said:  "We would stress that these are temporary measures to support people to effectively social distance whilst in the town centre and therefore keep people safe while Covid-19 is still prevalent.  The measures are designed to support traders during what we know has been a very difficult time due to the coronavirus crisis and we will continue to monitor their effectiveness and refine them as appropriate."