THE regional chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, which is based in Cirencester, has issued an open letter stating people should “hang their heads in shame” over the A417 missing link fiasco.
The letters comes days after residents from all over Gloucestershire were urged to band together to support a campaign to secure funding to sort out the notorious problem that is the single carriageway stretch of the A417 between Nettleton Bottom and Birdlip.
Mark Owen, the FSB’s regional chairman, said: “Through my role, I make the journey on the A417 between Birdlip and Cirencester on a regular enough basis to feel frustrated by the delays that always seem to dog Nettleton Bottom.
“It means that when I visit a client in Cricklade, Swindon or the FSB regional office in Cirencester, I have to allow extra time for negotiating Nettleton Bottom, taking up valuable time and adding to personal stress and extra petrol costs.”
Over the next few months Gloucestershire County Council will be putting pressure on the government to back a £250million to scheme to build a dual carriageway linking the roundabout at Cowley to the Air Balloon roundabout at the top Crickley Hill.
Mr Owen continued: “Opening up this stretch as a dual carriageway would have an immediate beneficial effect, not just in Gloucestershire but much wider afield.
“In my work, I meet many business people who share my concerns and who are convinced that improving this aspect of our infrastructure would be good for their business.
“If you take a look at how the French, Swiss, Germans and Italians have tamed the mighty Alps with gravity-defying roads, bridges and tunnels, we should hang our heads in shame over the Nettleton Bottom fiasco.
“I suspect that if Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Thomas Telford were alive today, they could knock out a viable Nettleton Bottom scheme on the back of a fag packet.”
The 5km missing link route is already used by more than 34,000 vehicles a day and in the past 15 years there has been more than 340 casualties following accidents on that stretch.
Recently, two crashes on the road, which happened only hours apart, resulted in the deaths of three people.
People are now being urged to show their support for the scheme by pledging their backing at www.a417missinglink.co.uk. Mr Owen said: “At the end of the day it comes down not to engineering problems, but expense.
"Sorting out the A417 will cost money – that has never been in doubt. We just need the powers that be to bite the bullet and get on with it.
“I would urge businesses large and small to get behind the campaign and pledge their support.”