The deputy mayor of Ringwood has called for the council to continue to press for signage on the A31 to avoid rat-running in the town centre and “total gridlock and chaos”.

The concerns were raised by Councillor Philip Day regarding the Highways England scheme which involves the widening of the westbound carriageway of the A31 and the closing of the West Street access onto the A31.

A meeting of Ringwood Town Council last week, which was held online via Zoom, heard that Highways England had questioned the need for signage on the A31 to advise drivers about the West Street junction closure.

Councillor Day said the council was still waiting to hear more and that a further meeting had been scheduled to take place in December.

He told councillors that emails sent to the town council indicated that Highways England have an “issue” with signage.

He added: “I and the mayor have responded quite forcibly with regard to that because we do have great concerns about rat-running through town and sincerely hope that between them, Hampshire County Council and Highways England, can resolve the issues, which have been quite longstanding as far as the town council is concerned.

“People travelling west along the trunk road need to be aware that if they do try to rat-run when there is a traffic jam or anything like that that they are not going to be able to do that through West Street.

“If that doesn’t happen then I envisage total gridlock and chaos within the town centre at the first time there is a hold up on the A31 after West Street has closed. That ties in with the traffic management and road safety schemes that are being advanced.”

Mayor Tony Ring said he supported Cllr Day’s comments, adding: “We will try our darnedest to make sure that Ringwood does not suffer gridlock as a result of their inaction.”