TRAFFIC experts say it could cost £500,000 to solve the problems caused by a controversial set of traffic lights in Westbrook that 'do not work'.

JMP was hired by Warrington Borough Council to review the lights installed on Cromwell Avenue earlier this year.

Its consultants have revealed that the traffic flow data used by the council when planning the measures was four years out of date.

And they say the number of visitors leaving Gulliver's World - nearly 400 cars at peak times - wasn't accounted for.

Speaking at a Burtonwood and Westbrook Parish Council meeting last Wednesday, Steve Hunter, the council's strategic transportation division manager, admitted that 'perhaps we didn't consider this quite as thoroughly as we should have done'.

Darren Oldham, JMP consultant, said the existing roundabout was replaced with traffic lights to improve pedestrian crossing facilities.

But he said: "The junction does not work. There is insufficient capacity in the junction.

"Significant changes are needed to increase capacity."

At peak times the junction is overloaded by 10 to 15 per cent.

Mr Oldham said JMP recommends introducing a left turn lane for the traffic travelling northbound on Cromwell Avenue, which would cost around £100,000 and would offer a significant improvement in capacity.

But he said: "It will make things better but it wouldn't make the junction work on a day-to-day basis."

He said changes to the traffic lights' timing and negotiating with Gulliver's World to stagger their customers' departure times could help.

But for the junction to work properly, Cromwell Avenue would have to be widened to deal with traffic demands - at a further cost of £400,000.

And the consultant admitted the situation would only worsen with the Omega development and expansion of Gemini Retail Park.

Burtonwood councillor John Joyce (Lab) demanded to know whether 'any knuckles were being rapped' over the errors.

Mr Hunter said the designs were drawn up by an in-house team at the council and that the people concerned 'are aware of these errors'.

Speaking after the meeting, Westbrook councillor David Earl (Lib) said: "I am really concerned that residents are going to say 'what a waste of money'.

"The question is why didn't they do the groundwork in the first place?"