The traffic situation around Sixfields Stadium and Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton on Saturday afternoon has been described as the “worst ever” by frustrated motorists.
Due to the fact the town’s rugby and football club’s kicked off within 15 minutes of each other, Northamptonshire County Council implemented the “traffic management plan” to try to ease the traffic problems.
But dozens of people have contacted the Chronicle & Echo to say they thought the traffic management had actually made the situation worse.
Graham Croucher, secretary of St James resident’s association, said the St James area remained gridlocked until 7pm and it was a “living hell” for drivers and people who lived in the area.
He said: “I have never seen anything like it. It was the worst ever. The traffic was still bumper-to-bumper two hours after the matches finished.
“I have sent a letter to Michael Clarke, county council cabinet member for transport, to ask for an explanation as to what went wrong.”
Motorist Jo Allwork, who was travelling across town at 4.45pm on Saturday, said she was stationary in traffic for more than an hour and saw three ambulances stuck in the congestion.
She said: “The so-called traffic control involved coning off roundabouts and dual carriageways around Sixfields and resulted in total gridlock across Northampton town.
“Travelling from town I arrived at the traffic lights just prior to the Saints Ground at 4.45pm en route to pick up my husband and his friend and was dismayed to find that the traffic was stationary.
“It took an hour before one car, van or bus moved and another half an hour before we progressed as far as the Saints ground.
“During this time three ambulances had to negotiate this congestion I hope the patients were not critical as their response times must have been abysmal.
“I have undertaken this journey for the last twenty years and never experienced a traffic situation like this, even when both teams were playing.
“If 50 per cent of the roads are made unavailable surely it is obvious that only chaos will result. The least we can expect is an apology for the lost time, fuel and the pollution caused. I hope lessons have been learned and this will never be allowed to happen again.”
Councillor Michael Clarke, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, has said the traffic jams on Saturday in the St James area of Northampton were “totally unacceptable” and he fully recognises the level of annoyance people caught in the traffic would have felt.
Councillor Clarke said: “I think it’s essential that all parties work together to prevent a repetition of Saturday’s snarl up, particularly when both the Saints and Cobblers have identical kick off times. To this end I am calling for a meeting with all relevant parties so that we can agree and apply solutions, which suit everyone, especially local residents and the travelling public.
“Fixture clashes lead to enormous traffic pressures, particularly when venues are in the same area of town and when the same pinch points are also busy with people using leisure facilities and shops, particularly at 5pm on a Saturday.
“One of the areas we need to assess is whether traffic management plans alone are an adequate solution. We are proud of the Saints and Cobblers but all of us involved with traffic management have to raise our game and re-learn the essence of teamwork.”