A CAMPAIGN to improve safety on stretches of the A31 has cranked up a gear following a crisis meeting between the Highways Agency, members of Ringwood Town Council and New Forest District Council.

The move comes after more than 1,000 people signed a petition calling for the New Forest’s busiest road to be made safer following a spate of crashes.

Now the Highways Agency has agreed to assess some of the suggestions put forward by Ringwood Town Council, which include reducing the speed limit from 70mph to 50mph, creating a crawler lane for eastbound lorries and installing signs telling motorists which lane to drive in.

The results of their safety probe could be revealed as early as next week.

Critics say many of the problems on the A31 occur on the Picket Post to Ashley Heath stretch, which is notorious for the large number of junctions and the absence of a crawler lane for HGVs struggling up Poulner Hill.

The action comes just months after Ringwood Town Council launched its campaign for improvements on the dual carriageway between Picket Post and the Ashley Heath interchange.

Town and district councillor Michael Thierry warned that any major improvements could take “many years” to roll out.

But he added: “There are one or two improvements which they could implement slightly earlier.

“The major one they could do almost instantly is the bringing in of a speed reduction to 50mph from Picket Post. There was a meeting before Christmas with the district and town councils and officers.”

“We have been campaigning for the A31 for many years and nothing has changed as yet. My view is that I would like to see the 50mph limit brought in immediately. The people of Ringwood are making demands for it.

“I would like to see the speed reduction implemented and then a consultation taking place on what people thought about it.”