Air Balloon residents suffer new blow
HIGHWAYS Agency bosses have dealt another blow to three people's bid to start a new life.
Sharon and Gerald Hodges and their neighbour Myra Sefton are desperate to leave the cottages they live in next to the Air Balloon roundabout, near Cheltenham.
But they have now been told the agency will not buy the properties – as it does not need to use the land.
The residents have been trying for years to get the Highways Agency to compulsory purchase their homes to make way for improvements to the A417.
But their requests have constantly been turned down in the past.
They had called for the agency to have a change of heart as it is considering introducing an experimental new traffic system by the roundabout.
They hoped agency bosses might scrap the scheme, thought to cost £100,000, and instead put the money towards compulsory purchasing the cottages ahead of a long-term revamp of the junction.
But an agency spokesman said: "We have no plans for compulsory purchase orders for the proposed experimental scheme to relieve traffic congestion on the A417 Air Balloon roundabout.
"We only have powers to issue CPOs where properties are situated on additional land required by new roads or improvements schemes."
Mrs Hodges said: "That doesn't surprise me at all but it does make me very cross.
"Because they know the pollution is very high, somebody should have stepped in a long time ago and sorted it out. Now I don't know where to turn."
She and her husband have lived in the cottage for nearly 27 years. They both have health problems and Mrs Hodges said her doctor suspected her asthma might have been caused by traffic pollution.
She hopes to undergo hospital tests soon to examine the matter further and added: "If I do find out it's connected, I'm going to kick up a right stink."
Myra Sefton, who has lived in her cottage for 23 years, said: "I don't know what we can do. They keep putting obstacles in the way and it's been going on for years. I've always said I'll go out in a box and I think that will be the case."
The 70-year-old widow said she felt compulsory purchasing the cottages would cost the agency about £500,000.
"We're not asking mega-bucks. That's nothing to them," she said.