HART councillors were told to "get their act together" and make a decision on improvements to Fleet Road in Fleet during a stormy meeting which saw plans for an inner relief road thrown out.

Hampshire county councillor Keith Estlin, who was chairing the meeting of the North-East Hampshire Area Transportation Strategy Panel, made the comment as he lost patience with Hart councillors, who have been dithering over plans to improve the road for more than 20 years.

He angered the Hart members, who feel the county council is not listening to them.

They want to see more public consultation on each improvement option, especially with Fleet Road businesses, before making a decision.

This is despite a Hampshire consultation late last year which cost £15,000 and explored three options for Fleet Road.

A report on that survey was presented to the panel at the meeting on February 13.

It was agreed that further consultation should take place and a public meeting will be held before the transportation panel meets again in June, when a decision should be finalised.

But the consultation will only concern the details of option A, which covers traffic and environmental improvements to Fleet Road, including changes to on-street parking, traffic calming and pedestrian improvements.

The 660 locals who signed resident Denis Gotel's petition for option B, the inner relief road, had their hopes virtually dashed last year when the panel agreed it was not viable.

Despite support from the developers of Elvetham Heath, and Mr Gotel's claim that the scheme was supported by traders, the panel felt it would turn Albert Road, Clarence Road and Connaught Road into rat-runs — and the £10million cost was way over the £2m to £2.5m available.

Despite throwing out option B — and effectively option C, a one-way system — councillors still clashed on what was the best way forward.

Some supported a revamped Fleet Road, while others still backed a one-way system around the surrounding residential roads.

The biggest issue discussed was safety, as the report revealed Fleet town centre was one of Hampshire's worst pedestrian accident blackspots.

This led to calls for more pedestrian crossings, road narrowing, traffic calming, a lower speed limit and prosecution of speeding motorists.

Hart councillors were also concerned about traffic flow, saying proposed lorry unloading bays would not solve the problem of traffic congestion.

County councillor Mike Roberts said: "We need to get to grips with this. Fleet needs pedestrian safety. I do not want to see people killed in Fleet because we cannot make decisions."

However, Cllr Peter Shoesmith said: "Hampshire County Council has not done enough to consult the traders in Fleet Road for their views regarding the removal of traffic in the road.

"They should be consulted individually, as there is a concern that shoppers may go elsewhere if they cannot park."

But Cllr Roger Benford said: "The safety issue should be more important than economic issues."

Cllr Peter Hutcheson added: "Fifteen thousand pounds out of over £2million is not a lot of money. We need to do this properly.

"Furthermore, Hampshire needs to take the views of Hart Council into consideration."

Cllr Shoesmith and Cllr Norman Lambert both called for more consultation, which caused the chairman to snap: "I am prepared to have a public meeting followed by a special meeting in June.

"But Hart councillors need to get their act together and get a scheme. You will never be able to please everyone."

Cllr Lambert responded that they did "get their act together" — at Hart's full council meeting in December, when councillors broadly supported option A and voted to ask Hampshire to undertake a "decent" consultation with the public and traders.