WORK in relation to contentious proposals to completely close off a slip road onto the A31 in Ringwood is set to be debated.

Hampshire County Council is preparing to issue an order which would lead to the permanent closure of the West Street access to the dual carriageway.

This move is part of the major scheme to widen the westbound carriageway of the trunk road, which is due to be carried out by Highways England in the next few years.

The county council secured £380,000 from Highways England to carry out various improvements in Ringwood town centre.

This includes cash to allow the closure of West Street, which is being pursued to improve road safety.

A response to the local authority’s proposed traffic regulation order by Cllr Michael Thierry says: “No objection to proposed TRO in respect of the junction of West Street and the A31.

“Residents seek assurance, however, that when the exit is ‘blocked’ off that there remains the means for vehicle egress from West Street to the A31 should an unforeseen emergency arise. A moveable barrier is a prudent measure which does not compromise the purpose of the traffic regulation order.”

Members of the town council’s planning committee are to discuss how the closure should be implemented at a meeting on Friday.

A report to the committee says the town council has maintained that emergency access is required from West Street to the A31, however, Highways England is opposed to installing a gated access as it claims this would “severely reduce the effectiveness of the proposed safety measure”. It also says an intermittent access for vehicles is likely to increase the risk of a collision due to traffic joining unexpectedly.

While town councillors have called for this access, the ambulance, police and fire service have no objection to the closure.

Hampshire County Council’s plans to facilitate the permanent road closure include the widening and extension of the existing footpath and converting the carriageway into a verge.

Meanwhile, a separate proposed order to reverse the direction of vehicle travel on a section of Meeting House Lane in the town was objected to by Cllr Thierry.

He called for the system to be reassessed with a view to it being withdrawn.

Highways England is developing detailed designs for the widening of the A31. The work is expected to start in spring 2021.