ROAD closures around George Square during Glasgow 2018 European Championships are to be a test of public appetite to close the square to traffic permanently.

Council leader Susan Aitken said the square has become little more than a “glorified roundabout” and something must be done.

The square will be closed on three sides during the sports event, which runs from August 2 to August 12, in order to create “a carnival atmosphere”.

Council bosses will use the closure - “an unprecedented move” - as a road test of how pedestrianising the square will look in the long term.

Ms Aitken, believes how George Square is being used during Festival 2018 is an opportunity that must be taken to inform the debate on the long term future of the city centre.

Ms Aitken said: “George Square is an incredible public space that people in Glasgow naturally gravitate towards.

“Whether it’s for a time out on a sunny day, standing up for your cause, enjoying a concert or event, George Square is at the very heart of our city.

“But it has long been our belief that we must be kinder to George Square.

“Sadly the square is often little more than a glorified roundabout that people repeatedly circle in search of highly limited car parking spaces that never appear.

“Allowing the square to be surrounded in traffic simply makes it stressful for both motorists and pedestrians alike.

“How George Square will be used during Festival 2018 gives us a proper chance to look again at how we used this treasured space.

“Closing the square on three sides for ten days is unprecedented, but it will give us an opportunity to gauge the reaction of the public to a very significant change.”

George Square is the main city venue for Festival 2018, the cultural programme for Glasgow 2018.

The square will host The Great Big Opening Party, a headlining performance by techno group Orbital and a host of live music, visual art, food and drink.

To create the setting, a council spokesman said, for the carnival atmosphere for the duration of the festival, George Square will be closed to traffic on three sides - east, west and south.

The north side square will remain open to traffic, allowing vehicles to travel from West George Street to North Hanover, North Frederick Street and George Street in line with existing road traffic regulations.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick said: “We are contributing to the work of the Glasgow Connectivity Commission and feedback on the impact of the temporary George Square closure will add to the evidence it has to hand in making its recommendations about the handling of transport in the city centre.

“As with our previous statements on the future of city centre transport we would encourage consideration of the unintended consequences of any development, in this case on business access to the area and on the availability of through traffic routes.”

Those wishing to attend Festival 2018 are also being encouraged to find alternatives to using the car to get about the city.

Using public transport or active travel options, such as cycling and walking, will help to reduce the pressure on the city’s roads network.

With the council leadership looking at the viability of a proposal to pedestrianise George Square permanently, the impact of the temporary road closures on the rest of the city centre will be carefully monitored by the council’s roads team over the course of the event.

Ms Aitken added: “How motorists and pedestrians feel about walking freely through a greatly enhanced space is a fundamentally important part of this proposal.

“But we also need to keep the city moving.

“Information on how city centre roads absorb the changes to George Square is vital also.

“We will be carefully studying the impact of the roads closure over the course of the events.

“The information gathered will assist us with drawing up plans that can used for the basis of the conversation that needs to take place about the future of George Square and the wider city centre.”

Any proposal to close the roads around George Square permanently will the subject of a detailed, statutory consultation process.

Consultees would include all members of the emergency services, transport agencies and others.