Bubble bursts on Air Balloon roundabout plans
CONTROVERSIAL plans for a right-turn ban at the Air Balloon roundabout have burst after a U-turn by Gloucestershire County Council.
On Tuesday, GCC announced it was withdrawing its support and £45,000 of funding for the £78,500 scheme following a public backlash.
Within hours, the Highways Agency had scrapped the plans but made a commitment to continue working on alternative solutions for congestion issues at the roundabout.
The six-month trial, which was due to start this summer, would have forced drivers to turn left when coming from the direction of Cirencester on the A417, meaning traffic coming up Crickley Hill would not have to stop at the roundabout.
The aim was to cut down on congestion and high Nitrogen Dioxide levels, but reports indicated it could have increased greenhouse gases and worsened existing rat runs through surrounding villages.
Cotswold district councillor Paul Hodgkinson (Lib Dem, Churn) has been lobbying against the scheme on behalf of around 150 residents who contacted him over the issue.
"It’s great news that the Highways Agency has buckled to pressure from the public," he said.
"This has caused unnecessary angst for many residents. The most important thing now is that lessons are learned by the county council that they must consult with people first before promoting any schemes."
In statements released by GCC and the HA, both organisations appeared to blame each other.
GCC’s leader Cllr Mark Hawthorne said the council was pulling out because the HA had not engaged with the public and local support was "crucial to the success of any trial".
A HA spokesman said: "We have been waiting for advice from the council on the most appropriate way to engage with the public and local residents on the proposal.
"Plans for the trial generated considerable public interest and we felt it was essential that we consider the views raised by local residents, road users and local councillors before proceeding further."
The HA spokesman added that the department decided to scrap the proposal because of GCC’s decision to withdraw support.
Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, agreed with GCC’s decision but said traffic congestion still needed to be tackled at the roundabout.
"I will continue my long-term campaign to find a complete and acceptable solution," he said.
"In the meantime smaller scale works, such as an extra carriageway up Leckhampton Hill, as well as alterations to the Birdlip junction to make it safer and other measures such as repositioning the Air Balloon roundabout, should all be looked at."
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