THE director of a Romsey business that has been forced to close has blamed the closure of Bell Street for the impact on its finances.

A Hampshire County Council project, Bell Street has been shut since last September and will remain closed until May as part of the redevelopment for the market town.

Businesses have continued to put out notices to drive footfall down the town centre road, but now, craft and art cafe Rum's Eg, which was founded six years ago, have said the challenges presented by the closure 'have proven too much'.

Citing the closure, which is in place to level the pavements with the road, a statement from the company said it was 'very obviously affecting trade enormously'.

The statement said: "The closure was announced with huge sadness to our loyal staff, who have stayed on board since September last year despite the Bell Street closure which was very obviously affecting trade enormously.

"The directors, management and staff of Rum's Eg would like to publicly and warmly thank all their loyal supporters and customers in whatever way they have supported the enterprise and loved Rum's Eg."

Founding director Siriol Sherlock said: "Over the past five-and-a-half years, we have supported the work and development of hundreds of talented artists and makers, we have delivered community projects in schools and through numerous art and craft workshops providing many new opportunities for teaching and public participation in the creative arts.

"It is hoped that with Bell Street due to open again in May with the new wonderfully wide pavements in a much more inviting street with lovely independent shops, who are also trying their hardest to hang on by their fingernails, that the stunning premises will be taken as soon as possible."

Hampshire County Council leader Roy Perry claimed it was having troubles prior to Bell Street closing.

He said: "The county council shared on our social media channels that Bell Street remained open as usual.

"I am aware that Rum's Eg was experiencing trouble before the closure of Bell Street.

"The council worked together with businesses to ensure minimal disruption to trade."