CAMPAIGNERS for the Thamesdown Drive extension have said they will work with Swindon Council on a solution, but only if there is a commitment of £600,000 to develop a ‘shovel-ready’ plan.

The decision was made at a public meeting held on Tuesday night, which was attended by more than 60 local residents.

It was held by various resident associations and parish councils who were there to state the latest position and how they intended to move forward.

The meeting was also attended by the Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Dale Heenan (Con, Covingham and Dorcan), who expressed frustration at the format of the meeting.

He put an invitation to those present to form a working group for a way forward, but this was rejected until a commitment was made on developing the road.

The meeting was called following the publication of a report which said the most cost-effective way of easing traffic problem is to develop existing roads as opposed to building the extension to the Barnfield Roundabout.

It was an independent report and Coun Heenan said it did not represent council policy. However, campaigners are concerned it will be used as an excuse not to build the road.

Bill King, of the Whitworth Road Residents Association, chaired the meeting and afterwards said: “What we want is the commitment to develop this plan.

“There is no point joining a working group if all it does is stand around talking.

“We have been talking about this for 20 years and nothing has happened. People have seen the roads get busier and nothing is getting done.

“We need to all work together but there has to be a commitment something is going to be done.”

Councillor Jim Grant (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney), speaking as a ward representative, said: “There is overwhelming support for the building of the road extension and the next step for the council is to provide the £600,000 to ensure we have a shovel-ready plan so we can bid for government money when it is available.”

Following the meeting, Coun Heenan expressed frustration at what he saw as people failing to budge from an entrenched position.

He said: “I was invited to speak, but it was clear when I was banished to the back that no-one was interested in anything I had to say.

“After 20 years of promises by politicians, we need action. New thinking is needed and I asked each Labour councillor and community group representatives to work with me, and they refused.”