FLEET roads campaigner Denis Gotel bearded the lion in its den yesterday(Wednesday) when he went to the meeting of the North East Hants Transportation Panel to try to persuade members to jettison a £2 million town centre plan that he says will turn Fleet Road into an obstacle course.

Backed by a 660 name petition, Mr Gotel is calling instead for the long-awaited Fleet Inner Relief Road to be built. He says the road has been in the pipeline for 30 years and developers have for many years been asked to make contributions towards it. The £2 million that the county plans to spend on its Fleet Road scheme is being paid over by the developers of Elvetham Heath and was earmarked for the Relief Road. He was accompanied by three other campaigners: - author Dr Mariska Adams; Mr Geoffrey Baker from the long standing Fleet Road family firm of ironmongers; and retired municipal highway engineer Mr Robert Hughes.

Mr Gotel told the panel that the public consultation exercise carried out by the county on its proposals was "a travesty of democracy". He said that to draw erroneous conclusions from it was highly unprofessional. "We agree" ticks had been received on 226 comment sheets and these were plainly unrepresentative of Fleet people as a whole, he said.

Mr Gotel said the majority of people in Fleet were under the firm impression until December that the relief road was virtually certain to be completed. With the promise of a sizeable financial contribution, the land safeguarded and a Government inspector's support for it to go ahead, it was " a lifetime opportunity."