HIGHWAYS England has hit back at criticism from Northumberland County Council about plans for its interim traffic management while work on Hexham roundabout is carried out.

This week, the county council reacted angrily to Highways England's new proposal to impose a block of right hand turns on the A69 Bridge End roundabout for a year from April while work for an underpass is carried out.

The proposals would mean people exiting the town and travelling east towards Newcastle would only be able to turn left to head westbound before turning around at Acomb. Those travelling from the west and wishing to enter Hexham at the roundabout would have to carry on to Styford at Corbridge before double backing on themselves.

Northumberland County Council has written to Highways England asking it to reconsider the plans, but a spokesman for the organisation said it would cause less disruption to motorists in the long run.

The spokesman said: "We are disappointed by the comments made by Northumberland County Council about our traffic management plans for Bridge End.

For the last five months, we have been in discussions with the council regarding the temporary measures we intend to put in place while we construct the improvements.

“The original plan was to elongate the roundabout, however, further detailed designs revealed there wouldn’t be sufficient working areas at locations within the site and there would also be increased risks for road users and workers.

“The alternative plans, using the Acomb and Corbridge junctions as turning points, mitigate safety risks and reduce the work by two months, reducing disruption for residents and businesses.

“We were made aware that Northumberland County Council had some concerns about these plans this week and we are in the process of replying to them formally so we can work together to find a way forward.

"Once the plans have been agreed, we still fully intend to inform residents, businesses and stakeholders.”