Gateshead’s opposition leader has called for controversial changes to the town centre’s roads to be scrapped after a weekend of traffic chaos.

This comes after an investigation was launched after Gateshead Council admitted that congestion was ”on a scale not seen previously”.

Two days ago a post on Gateshead Council’s Facebook page warned that traffic congestion in the town centre was causing “significant delays to journey times”.

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Drivers reported mayhem in the area, with a Heworth woman saying her shopping was ruined after being stuck in Tesco car park for two hours on Friday.

She described “the smell of burning clutch and the faces of road rage for a solid two and half hours” until she got out of the jam just after the civic centre.

Another claimed it took “about 45 minutes to an hour to get from Tesco to Wilko and road rage was at an all time high.”

On Monday a Gateshead Council boss said that congestion seen on Friday and Saturday was “significantly worse than usual”, and that it is investigating it as “a matter of urgency”.

Alterations made in July last year included a bus lane only introduced on Askew Road on the approach to the Tyne Bridge and the installation of a parallel cycle lane.

Coun Jonathon Wallace, who represents Whickham South and Sunniside, has said that investigation into this weekend’s gridlock isn’t needed and that the council should scrap the changes.

The long-time critic of the scheme said: “This doesn’t need an investigation – there was a large quantity of traffic on Friday because of events.

“Nevertheless the biggest part of the problem is the experimental traffic management scheme, which is not working.

“To avoid the chaos they [the Council] have got to abandon the traffic management scheme and go back the drawing board.

“Returning to how things were is not the best solution in the world and leaves us with some problems but no where near as bad as if we leave the traffic management measures in place.”

Last month the council confirmed that the changes, which also include, Hills Street being closed to through traffic and Nelson Street/Lambton Street becoming access only to and from the Trinity Square shopping centre, will stay in place for at least another two years.

The Government has stated that low traffic schemes introduced in the past 18 months should be retained “unless there is substantial evidence to the contrary”.

Yesterday Sheena Ramsey, chief executive at Gateshead Council, admitted traffic problems in Gateshead Town Centre were “on a scale not seen previously”.

She said: “We want to apologise for the anxiety and inconvenience caused by the traffic and congestion experienced by local residents and visitors this weekend.

“The traffic problems around Gateshead town centre at the end of last week were on a scale not seen previously and we are investigating the causes as a matter of urgency.

“While there can be localised problems with vehicles leaving the Trinity Square shopping centre car park at busy periods, the congestion seen on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th was significantly worse than usual, and the Council is seeking to identify why this happened and minimise the risk of it happening again.”

Ms Ramsay said that significant congestion was also seen in Newcastle.

She said: “We want to apologise for the anxiety and inconvenience caused by the traffic and congestion experienced by local residents and visitors this weekend.

“The traffic problems around Gateshead town centre at the end of last week were on a scale not seen previously and we are investigating the causes as a matter of urgency.

“While there can be localised problems with vehicles leaving the Trinity Square shopping centre car park at busy periods, the congestion seen on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th was significantly worse than usual, and the Council is seeking to identify why this happened and minimise the risk of it happening again.”

Ms Ramsay said that significant congestion was also seen in Newcastle.

She added: “This weekend has also seen significant congestion and delays in Newcastle, and it seems crowds attending major cultural and sporting events in the area have contributed to that congestion.

“Gateshead is committed to tackling the climate emergency and resolving problems with air quality and has made significant changes to the town centre road network to help address those issues.

“We will look again at how we manage the town centre network and signage, to try to keep traffic moving and avoid delays as far as possible.

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“Any action that is taken will need to sit within the wider context of the Council’s responsibilities. We need to shift the balance away from the private car and towards alternative forms of transport.”