ROMSEY'S town centre manager has urged residents to lobby Hampshire County Council (HCC) to help to shut a busy road in a bid protect people from coronavirus.

This comes after community leaders from across Test Valley pleaded with HCC to close The Hundred to drivers for when shops reopen on Monday, June 15, in a bid to reduce the chances of locals catching the killer virus.

Now town centre manager, Mark Edgerley, has revealed he is "disappointed for Romsey businesses and residents" after claiming HCC may not close off the road, which would allow people to use it to keep a distance from others.

However, HCC has claimed they are working to develop a scheme to temporarily close The Hundred "to help with social distancing as the town centre reopens".

Mr Edgerley said: "I am disappointed for the Romsey businesses because they may not get the support I think they should get from the council.

"I am also disappointed for residents who have so much to worry about at the moment with coronavirus and if I was a parent with a toddler I would think twice about going into the town centre, because you cannot carry them across the road all the time to avoid cars, especially when you are shopping.

"The footfall is slowly going up in Romsey, due to more shops reopening, and I know Bradbeers Department Store are opening next week which could be really busy for the town centre, but if people do not feel safe because of the traffic they won't come to town.

"This will damage businesses further who are desperate to get more trading in, however everybody would be more relaxed if The Hundred was closed which would give businesses a chance."

In a tweet to Romsey residents, Mr Edgerley said: "Please lobby Hampshire County Council about The Hundred; we asked for it to be closed on April 27 and despite much effort since they don’t think closure required.

"We understand other Hampshire towns having similar issues with HCC."

He added: "The council should be able to do close a road within six weeks, but it seems they do not want to use their powers this time.

"They have told us they want to put up signs in the town to slow traffic down and there will be signs to remind people to keep two metres apart on the walkways from car parks, such as the Broadwater car park.

"The Government have also given out money to local authorities to fund high streets reopening, because they want businesses working otherwise the country will go bust."

Cllr Mark Cooper, who represents Romsey Tadburn on the borough council, said: "I am keen to see The Hundred is closed for some hours every day, such as between 10am and 4pm, which will allow people to use the narrow part of the road and socially distance at the same time.

"The county is very conscious of any additional costs and are very reluctant to spend money, but these are very unusual times and, similarly to what Mark Edgerley has said, I believe the county should respond to this situation in a much more positive way."

Cllr Rob Humby, deputy leader and executive member for Economy, Transport and Environment at HCC, said: “Hampshire County Council is working on a number of temporary measures across the county to provide more road space for people walking and cycling – keeping a safe social distance while supporting Hampshire’s economic recovery.

"Measures could include widening footways, especially on high streets, to ensure that those walking and queuing are able to keep two metres from each other; installing measures to restrict through traffic from using residential streets to ensure that physical distancing can occur, and installing temporary cycle lanes and temporary cycle parking.

“In Romsey, the county council is working with Test Valley Borough Council and the town centre manager to develop a scheme which allows the temporary closure of The Hundred to help with social distancing as the town centre reopens.

"New signs are due to be installed within the next two weeks to discourage drivers from using The Hundred, warning drivers that pedestrians are likely to be in the carriageway due to social distancing and to drive carefully.

"Additionally, we will be putting in one-way signing for pedestrians this week between the car parks and the main shopping areas to The Hundred, Latimer Street and Bell Street.”