A GROUP calling on civic bosses to rethink plans to change the centre of Romsey have criticised county leaders for ignoring their ‘serious’ safety concerns.

Market Place is set to be altered following an earlier scheme in Church Street and the current work that has closed Bell Street.

A consultation period for residents by Hampshire County Council saw those who voted opting for a design that will see a pedestrian area on the northern side, while retaining all traffic movements.

Now, Re-Think Romsey Market Place have said that leaders need to ‘face the fact’ that their goal cannot be achieved without causing ‘serious safety hazards’, as well as criticising the number of people who voted.

Backed by 160 people, the group, led by residents Derek Langford, Sylvia Robinson and John Hammond, have put forward their own proposals.

A statement from the group said: “Out of an electorate of 13,203, only 330 responded. Option one achieved only 34 per cent of the small vote, but nevertheless was selected by the council.

“We have put these safety concerns to the council and have no received an adequate response. The councils need to face the fact that their goal of incorporating a piazza cannot be achieved without causing serious safety hazards.

“Our view is that safety is everyone’s concern and all such reports should be available.”

“The arrangement that we propose is a practical alternative.

“There would be wide pavements around all sides with ample space for market stalls or cafe tables and plenty of room for pedestrians and mobility scooters.

“The roadways would be narrower thus slowing down traffic and would be arranged as a conventional roundabout.”

Chairman of the group set up to enable the town centre development, councillor Clive Collier, said the proposals from the group wouldn’t enhance or improve the existing arrangement.

He said: “A design based upon a roundabout would fail to reduce vehicle speeds, would not provide a substantial additional area for events and would not, in effect, enhance or improve the existing arrangement.

“This would continue the present practice of cars cruising around looking for somewhere to park and illegal parking.

“The public consultation took place between February 29 and April 8 2016 and included, during this period, a manned exhibition in the Town Hall and the foyer of the former Magistrates Court.

“It was widely advertised through social media and the local press.

“I remain passionately committed to seeing through the scheme currently being worked up.”

Executive member for environment and transport for Hampshire County Council, Rob Humby, added: "A roundabout is not an option as it would take away valuable pedestrian space, severely reduce access to the Lord Palmerston statue and would not reduce traffic speeds as much as the approved option.

"The enhancements will also support the future vitality of this thriving market town."