A FORMER Romsey councillor has called on the town mayor--John Burgess--to resign.

Norman Hurst clashed with the mayor during public question time at Tuesday's meeting of Romsey Town Council.

His verbal attack on the town's first citizen took everyone by surprise.

Mr Hurst, who was a town councillor and deputy mayor during the 1990s, claimed the mayor had not done anything to prevent lorries breaking the 6ft 6ins width restriction in Highwood Lane, near Crampmoor.

First, Mr Hurst calmly told the council that although he did not have any political allegiance, he had supported the mayor during his election campaign by putting up posters.

Addressing the mayor, Mr Hurst said: "Your mayoralty has been superb. You were the best person for the job. This question is a little personal. Your house is on a road with a 6ft 6ins width restriction. The law is being broken 30 to 60 times a day by lorries. It has been asked, 'What has the mayor done about this?' Are you condoning it? Some people are very irate about it."

In reply, the mayor said the matter was nothing to do with his job as mayor.

He told Mr Hurst and the rest of his council colleagues that he had, as an individual, raised the matter with both the police and the highway authority on a number of occasions.

Mr Burgess said the police could not do anything about lorries using Highwood Lane unless drivers were caught in the act and proof was provided.

"This is a personal matter. The road is a death trap with an accident waiting to happen. I nearly got wiped off the road the other day," remarked the mayor.

Former mayor, Max Buckmaster queried whether Mr Hurst's approach was a question or statement.

Deputy mayor Cheryl Collier attempted to solve the crisis by suggesting the council take up Mr Hurst's concerns--about lorries abusing the width restrictions--with the police.

"Everyone agrees the lorries shouldn't be breaking the law. It would not hurt to write to the police about it," said Cllr Collier.

A further clash then followed between the mayor and Mr Hurst.

Councillor Burgess reminded him it was question time for members of the public, not an opportunity for him to make statements.

Mr Hurst accused the mayor of refusing to listen to a statement from police inspector David O'Dowd.

He had a copy of this in his hand, and started to speak but was stopped from quoting from it by the mayor, who again in a slightly raised voiced, reminded Mr Hurst that it was a questions-only session.

Mr Hurst replied: "I was asked to call for your resignation."

Earlier Mr Hurst attacked planners for earmarking Abbotswood as a possible site for 1,100 new homes.

He suggested that the borough council's planning department should be privatised.

Mr Hurst accused the council of "not standing up" to the government by saying 'no' to more homes in Romsey.

Borough and town councillor Brian Palmer told him: "You should know better than blame Test Valley. It is being dictated to by central government, which is saying we have got to build houses in southern Test Valley.