A BUSY road in the heart of Romsey could be shut for months in a bid to protect people from coronavirus.

Community leaders from across Test Valley have urged Hampshire County Council to close The Hundred from June 1 in a bid to reduce the chances of locals catching the killer virus.

Now Romsey town centre manager, Mark Edgerley, says the move could force the road to be closed, from the Market Place to Latimer Street, for the foreseeable future so people can use it to keep a distance from others in the town centre.

Mr Edgerley said: "This proposal has come from me and I have had a few emails about this because as time has gone by over the last couple of weeks there have been more and more pedestrians in The Hundred.

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Romsey Advertiser: Mark EdgerleyMark Edgerley

"The pavements there are so narrow that you cannot socially distance, so you have to step on the road, which was fine two weeks ago but the number of vehicles have now increased.

"That means stepping out into the road has become more dangerous and my concerns about COVID-19 are people are much edgier and short-tempered.

"A lot of careful drivers would normally stop for pedestrians, but some are not inclined to do that now."

He added: "We will have to use the road for queuing if the Government allow the shops to open on June 1, so this could go on for months.

"We put forward two proposals to the council and one way to manage it is shutting The Hundred between the main shopping hours in Romsey - 9am and 3pm - but that would involve a traffic management scheme where barriers are put up and taken down.

"I think shutting the road part-time is the more expensive option, because you will have more staff involved to shut it; closing it for 24 hours every day is easier and cheaper, but it will be harder for shop deliveries."

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Mr Edgerley added the road closure could mean large vehicles, such as lorries, would "have to be stopped" from driving down Greatbridge Road and into the Market Place, diverting them down Duttons Road instead.

Deputy leader of Hampshire County Council and executive member for economy, transport and environment, councillor Rob Humby, said: “We are currently assessing over 150 different ideas to support social distancing proposals across Hampshire.

"As a result, we are having to prioritise what we can practically deliver based on need, complexity, resource availability and practicality.

"We can confirm that The Hundred in Romsey is on that list and that we are in discussions with Test Valley Borough Council.”

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Rob HumbyCllr Rob Humby

Cllr Mark Cooper, who represents Romsey Tadburn on the borough council, added: "People are put off because they cannot queue outside of shops safely so they are not going to come to Romsey as a result."

Deputy leader of Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), cllr Nick Adams-King, said: "I am very alert to the problem there could be in The Hundred if all the shops reopen, given the width of the pavements and the need to socially distance.

"Both Romsey Future and TVBC are pressuring the county council to come up with a organised solution that can be in place from June 1."