A LACK of cash could torpedo plans to give a Hampshire town a shopping centre fit for the 21st century.

A leading member of New Forest District Council has confirmed that proposals to transform Totton town centre are in danger of being foiled by a shortage of funds.

Jeremy Heron, Cabinet member for planning and economy, spoke out at a meeting of the authority.

He was responding to comments made by the Liberal Democrat opposition group, who claimed that Totton had received "shabby treatment" at the hands of Hampshire County Council.

Critics say almost no progress has been made since a £22m plan to improve the main shopping area was published four years ago.

Cllr Heron stressed that the much-needed scheme had the full backing of district councillors.

He said: "The whole council supports the project but attempts to secure the finance to take it forward have been thwarted at every turn.

Secure funding' "Hampshire County Council is aware of the need to improve Totton town centre and will try to secure funding. We will continue to push it at every point, but money is tight."

The plans published in 2002 included a relief road that would link Salisbury Road with Ringwood Road.

However, the government refused to fund the scheme amid fears that the road was more likely to increase congestion than improve traffic flows.

As reported in the Daily Echo, Totton town council has now produced a scaled-down version of the project in a bid to keep it alive.

Estimated to cost between £5m and £7m, the new blueprints are based on the original plans put forward by the county council.

They do not include the proposed relief road but feature almost every other aspect of the initial scheme, including a new town square.

The county council has vowed to work with its partners and implement "selected improvements" to the town centre at the earliest opportunity.