HIGHWAY bosses have come under fire for their response to concerns over a £130 million road scheme.

The A556 improvement project would see the creation of a new dual carriageway linking the M6 at Knutsford and M56 at Bowdon.

The Highways Agency scheme is one of 40 major infrastructure projects across the north west on which construction is due to begin this year, following an announcement yesterday, Tuesday, by the Government.

The agency has been criticised by a forum which seeks to encourage and enable public access to the countryside for recreation and enjoyment.

The Cheshire East Local Access Forum was set up as part of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to advise Cheshire East Council and Natural England on putting the legislation into effect.

The agency has been strongly criticised by the forum for its response to concerns which were raised by the group over the A556 proposals.

“The forum had requested better provision for non-motorised users at certain points of the road, and is disappointed and dissatisfied with the agency’s response,” said forum chairman Bob Anderson, who accused the agency of not taking the forum’s concerns seriously.

He said the forum had written to the agency complaining of its ‘dismissive attitude’ to what the group regarded as reasonable points it had raised about the safety of walkers, cyclists and horse riders, and has asked the agency to look again at providing better crossings.

Copies of the letter have been sent to the chief executives of Cheshire East and Trafford Councils.

The forum is independent of Cheshire East Council, and its volunteer members represent interest groups. It is a statutory body, and has met the Highways Agency and the contractors to discuss the scheme.

The agency says the new road would address major congestion on the A556, cut accidents and improve air quality.

There were 98 accidents involving injuries on the road between 2007 and 2011, including one death and 13 serious injuries.

The Guardian has not yet received a response from the agency.