A PUBLICAN has been left furious by the council's decision to close a main road indefinitely. 

Kevin Divall, landlord of The Rising Sun, has accused Hampshire County Council of exploiting "its Covid-19 powers" to shut Chapel Hill from next week.

The council said its objective is to introduce this "temporary" measure to increase the opportunity for pedestrians to social distance.

But Mr Divall, said this excuse doesn't make sense as the road will still be open for buses and taxis. 

The 57-year-old, from South View, added that he was concerned about the duration, as the council are at liberty to keep the road closed for as long as they like under current conditions. 

He told the Gazette: "There is no duration or conditions to lift the measure, the road will be open to buses and taxis but not cars.

Basingstoke Gazette: The landlord said the council could close the road for 18 monthsThe landlord said the council could close the road for 18 months

"As the road is still open to some traffic, I do not understand how increased distancing can be achieved or there is sufficient reason that the road is congested by pedestrians to necessitate the closure.

"Apart from the potential issues to my business reopening, I cannot see how the local roads in South View or many Basingstoke residents will not be affected.

"The only way north from town will be the single track railway bridge by the Queens Arms."

Kevin wants to protect South View and get all the traffic on one road.

The 57-year-old explained that the council has the power to ensure the closure could last up to 18 months as an "emergency measure".

He said that his pub, like many others across Basingstoke has been closed for three months and is unsure when The Rising Sun will reopen.

Basingstoke Gazette: Kevin says the road will only be open to buses and taxisKevin says the road will only be open to buses and taxis

The landlord spoke to a traffic coordinator from HCC and enquired about the closing of Chapel Road and what space it would provide pedestrians.

Kevin claimed the traffic coordinator said it would not provide any additional space for pedestrians.

"Pedestrians won't be able to use the road as cars and buses will be taking up all of the space.

"Traffic will divert through South View to get to the railway station.

"The council closed the road a year ago to make the footpath wider but the bottleneck is still there at the railway bridge.

"If you cut your main artery into town, it will cause problems."

Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, said: “We have worked at pace, and as soon as Government guidance and timescales were available, to support the safe, economic recovery of Hampshire as national Covid-19 lockdown restrictions ease.

"The scheme to close Chapel Hill tunnel to all motor vehicles, except buses, taxis and cycles will help social distancing as cyclists will ride on the road, which will have less traffic on it, thereby freeing up capacity for pedestrians on the footway.

"Access for car traffic to The Rising Sun pub and the cemetery still remains from the northern end of Chapel Hill.  

"On Vyne Road, the rail tunnel will also be closed, enabling cyclists to use the road through the tunnel, separating from pedestrians on the footway. Access to the rail station car park will be retained.

“The transport and travel measures we are putting place are to support the re-opening of town centres and businesses to help enable social distancing measures, giving people the confidence to return, and to enable more people to walk and cycle, reflecting changing travel patterns during the coronavirus outbreak.

"These plans are being developed with Hampshire’s district and borough councils, Business Improvement Districts, town and parish councils, and other organisations who have expressed an interest.

"It is important to note that the delivery of these temporary measures requires that we work at speed and scale – they will therefore not be subject to the same level of consultation as permanent transport infrastructure. 

"This scheme will be in place towards the end of this week and will be monitored regularly.

"There will also be a QR bar code on site which you can scan using a smartphone to provide your feedback.

"We will review schemes regularly and they will be altered if necessary. Schemes may also be considered for retention where appropriate, based in part on careful feedback from local people and businesses and evidence of effectiveness.”