NEW calls backed by over 100 signatures on a petition have been made for designated lorry routes around Romsey.

The petition has been raised in the Greatbridge Road area amid concerns that lorries are not encouraged by Hampshire County Council's highways department to avoid the area close top the town centre.

It also comes in the wake of a spate of crashes in which heavy lorries hauling containers have crashed into the Greatbridge Road railway bridge.

But those recent incidents have involved lorries travelling south into Romsey after joining the A3057 at Andover or Stockbridge en route to Southampton.

The lorries giving concern to Greatbridge Road campaigners are the ones coming south along the M3 and then heading for the industrial estates to the north of Romsey Railway Station.

Having gone past the Badger Farm junction, many pick up the M27 and M271 before approaching the town from the south and finding their way to the notorious Greatbridge Road Bridge.

Petition organiser Chris Norvall first raised the issue with Romsey MP Sandra Gidley in the hope that the county council could be persuaded to sign lorries off the M3 at Junction 11 (Badger Farm) and then travel along the A3090 through Hursley and Ampfield before driving to the factories via Cupernham Lane.

If they drive past the Cupernham turn-off, they are confronted by the low bridge at the bottom of Winchester Hill and, if they get past that, the even lower Sun Arch.

A letter to Mrs Gidley from Peter Bayless, the county's chief engineer for traffic management and road safety, agreed that there were not signs on the A3090 indicating that the industrial estates could be reached via Cupernham Lane.

But it explained: "The main reason for this is that even a minimum level of signing may be construed by the residents of Cupernham Lane as encouraging lorries along this road.

"Many residents of Cupernham Lane have expressed concerns regarding the size and volume of traffic travelling past their properties and we are mindful of this."

But Mr Norvall said: "There aren't that many people in Cupernham Lane, but there are hundreds in the roads around us.

"They say they're being mindful of the people in Cupernham Lane, but we don't want the lorries here either. There is far too much heavy commercial stuff that comes through. "And when these lorries are 16 feet high, they have no choice but to go somewhere else. I think it's incumbent on the county council to provide a safe route to the industrial estates."

A Hampshire County Council spokeswomna said the vast majority of lorry journeys are made by the trunk road and motorway network.

But she added: "A class roads such of the A3057 do act as important local lorry routes for delivery vehicles associated with the manycommercial and agricultural operations found in the Andover, Stockbridge and Romsey area and Greatbridge Road forms part of this important link. "Vehicles which exceed 14' 3" are restricted from using Greatbridge Road because of the headroom clearance under Greatbridge railway bridge."

"Although the A3057 is not perfect due to the low bridge at Greatbridge, there really is no more suitable route available in particular for north-south lorry movements around the town and for deliveries. Because of the restricted height of the Sun Arch to the east there are very limited alternatives to meet the calls for designated lorry routes through the town, thus taking lorries away from the Greatbridge Road route," said the spokeswoman.

She said the council would continue to review the situation regarding signing of the low bridges and lorry movements in Romsey