A SCHEME to build traffic lights at a problem junction has won huge support from residents and businesses.

A total of 70 per cent of people consulted said that traffic lights should be installed in Bedale to improve safety at the junction of the busy Market Place, Sussex Street, South End and Bridge Street.

Fears had been voiced that traffic lights would damage the character of the town's historic Market Place, but officers from North Yorkshire County Council feel that the improvements to safety for pedestrians and easing of traffic congestion would outweigh any harm done.

North Yorkshire Police said the traffic lights are the best option, but the ambulance service fear they could delay emergency vehicles.

The council's director of environmental services, Mike Moore, has now recommended that the traffic lights should be included in the final traffic management strategy for the town.

Mr Moore has also recommended that the final strategy should include the widening and upgrading of the footpath between Bedale and Crakehall to provide a cycle path, as well as a pedestrian crossing on the A684 near Bedale Station and improvements to the alleys which link the Bridge Street car park with the Market Place.

He said further consideration should also be given to providing up to £50,000 towards building a footbridge over Bedale Beck.

The council has been working on the strategy for the last 18 months and has carried out a major consultation over the plans, delivering 4,300 leaflets and questionnaires to addresses in Bedale and the surrounding villages.

Mr Moore said: "A very wide range of views have been expressed in the responses to this public consultation exercise, from residents, businesses, stakeholders and statutory consultees. It is quite clear from the responses that all of the measures have been well received."

He said some parts of the strategy could be funded from this year's budget.

These would include 40mph buffer zones in Exelby Road, Firby Road, Masham Road and the A684 eastern approach to Aiskew.

Extra parking for bicycles could also be funded.

The strategy will be discussed by the council's Hambleton area committee on Monday