A CAMPAIGN urging the government to part with more £200million to fix the notorious A417 missing link has been thrown into jeopardy after a Cheltenham MP has refused to give it his backing.
Thousands of people across Gloucestershire have already put their name to the scheme that is calling for a dual carriageway to replace the problematic stretch of single-lane road between Nettleton Bottom and Birdlip.
However, the campaign, which called for unanimous support from all of the county’s politicians, now lies in turmoil after Martin Horwood, MP for Cheltenham, said he was unable to lend his support to the scheme in its current guise.
“I don’t think it is any secret that I do have real concerns about the environmental impact of the brown route solution, but I am very conscious about the safety issues on this stretch of the road and something must be done,” he said.
Mr Horwood explained that, while he doesn’t want to stand in the way of the scheme, the impact of building a new dual carriageway in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty needs to be “borne in mind”.
Used by more than 34,000 vehicles every day, the five kilometre road has become synonymous with bottleneck delays, congestion and fatal accidents.
Since 1998 there have been 11 fatalities on the road, three of which occurred in the space of eight hours last November.
The scheme has already received cross party support from councillors sitting on both Cotswold District Council and Gloucestershire County Council.
Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said he was “disappointed” that Mr Horwood had chosen to buck the trend.
He told the Standard that the Secretary of State for Transport insisted that the plan would only go ahead if there was “a united political will around one particular solution”.
“Patrick McLoughlin made clear that if we can this, the substantial road improvement would be carried out in the period between 2015 and 2020,” he said.
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Lib Dem MP hopeful for the Cotswolds, said that Mr Horwood wants a solution to the A417 problems just as much as anybody else.
“He has some reservations over the Loop scheme just as I have had some, but I am backing it because it gives us the best chance to get the issues sorted out. I won’t rest until we get this solved,” he said.
To back the campaign, visit www.a417missinglink.co.uk.