Air Balloon roundabout plan was first suggested in 2010
CONTROVERSIAL proposals to modify the Air Balloon roundabout have been in the pipeline since as long ago as 2010, it has emerged.
Last month, the Highways Agency outlined intentions to introduce a no right turn at the notorious bottleneck junction for vehicles travelling on the A417 from Cirencester.
The scheme, aimed at improving air quality and traffic flow, is set to go on trial later this year.
Residents are unanimously against the idea, claiming it will put undue pressure on surrounding routes. They have also called for a proper public consultation before any trial.
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Now, it has been brought to light that the change was first mooted as long ago as 2010.
And it was further discussed at a meeting in March last year attended by then Government transport chief Mike Penning, county council leader Mark Hawthorne and Cotswolds MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.
Councillor Paul Hodgkinson (LD, Church Valley) called for an explanation as to why residents had not been told about the scheme sooner.
He said: "Everyone was taken by surprise when the proposal for the Air Balloon roundabout was talked about.
"What we now know is that this was discussed last year by the Cotswolds MP and the leader of the county council.
"Why has this information taken so long to come out and why did the county council and our MP not consult with residents first before any proposal came out?"
An email leaked to the Echo showed the proposed changes were originally discussed at a county council stakeholder workshop back in 2010.
At the later meeting last March, the possibility of carrying out a trial was raised, with Mr Penning requesting a financial contribution from the county council. The authority has since agreed to put up £45,000 to support the scheme.
The Highways Agency said it had been working to assess the impact of proposed changes since March last year.
Mr Clifton-Brown (C, Cotswolds) said: "It's only a trial and if after six months we can see it hasn't worked then I will be the first to say we should scrap it.
"The fact is we have got an environmental problem with the poor air quality and this is a low cost scheme which could make a positive difference.
"But I want to make one thing clear – I am at the forefront of pushing for permanent improvements to congestion on the A417. It is one of the biggest issues holding back the local economy."
A Gloucestershire County Council spokesman said: "We have been working with the national Highways Agency for more than 10 years, looking at feasible improvements to the A417 Air Balloon roundabout.
"It is a Highways Agency responsibility and we have been pressing to ensure that there will be local engagement before this trial takes place."