A ROW over a rat run through one of Winchester's oldest streets continued last week.

Councillors debated traffic restrictions in Great Minster Street and The Square at the town forum on Wednesday (Jan 23).

The council is set to repave the road in a joint project with the county council that will cost around £300,000.

Vehicles are currently banned from entering the roads unless they are for business or residential access, including customers visiting the shops.

But residents of Symonds Street and St Swithun Street have criticised the restrictions after a county council traffic survey revealed the majority of drivers were using it as a short cut.

Peter Grant, St Swithun Street and Symonds Street Residents' Association chairman, told the meeting residents were fed up of constant traffic despite the ban.

He said: “We have approximately two cars per minute coming down the road throughout the day. These restrictions have been a complete waste of money and do not mean a thing.

“I have a map as far back as 1417 and the street layout of this area is almost the same as today. It was not designed for motorised traffic and all that goes with it, particularly large vehicles which scrape their way along the road.”

But Andy Hickman, head of access and infrastructure, said the council was unable to enforce the restrictions.

He said: “Some traffic orders we are able to enforce ourselves like parking restrictions but we cannot enforce moving traffic restrictions. That relies on the police but they have little resources to do that. We are not condoning people going through there illegally but we cannot do anything about it.”

Councillors proposed a number of solutions to the problem including erecting traffic lights with long delays in the road and pedestrianising the area from 10am-4pm.

Mr Hickman added: “If we make Market Lane open to two-way traffic then people will get slowed by lorries and it will make the rat run less attractive.”

But Cllr Robert Sanders, who represents St Michael ward, said the road was part of a bigger problem of transport between the west to east of the city and recommended leaving it as it is.

He said: “We keep looking at this in isolation and not in terms of the city as a whole. If you live in St Michael ward there are only two ways of getting from west to east and one is to come down St James Lane which is one of the most dangerous roads in the city.

“We made the wrong decision when we made the traffic prohibition. We have to preserve the status quo and that's the message coming from the majority of the people I represent.”

The recommendations will be put before a traffic committee which will review the restrictions next month.