A FORDINGBRIDGE pub owner is calling for "confusing" signs on the A338 for a road closure that is miles away in Salisbury to be removed and replaced with clearer ones.

Caroline Roylance, who runs the George Pub, says she noticed trade was a bit quieter than expected last week and when driving to the bank in Ringwood she saw signs all along the A338 from Ringwood heading back towards Fordingbridge saying road ahead closed.

She said: "As I'm driving back I see these signs on the Ringwood roundabout on the end of the A338 saying really big 'road ahead closed'. As I'm driving up out of every single road onto the A338 there was road ahead closed, road ahead closed, road ahead closed. If you look at the other side there are six signs and it says at Nunton but how many people know where Nunton is or how far away it is?"

The road works, which are taking place in Salisbury, started last Wednesday (September 3) with closures in place on the the A338 between the Britford Park and Ride and the Harnham Gyratory. The closure is set to remain until September 25, but is not in place during weekends.

Caroline says she put a post on Facebook about it and was contacted by Hampshire County councillor Edward Heron who said he looking into getting the signage updated.

She added: "Yesterday (Wednesday, September 9) was the first time I've been on that road again. The signage is exactly the same. Every sign says road ahead closed."

She says after putting a post on Facebook yesterday people were responding saying they 'assumed the whole road was shut and didn't come' while another thought they would not be able to visit family because the road was closed.

"I get why they are doing it, it's because HGVs can't take shortcuts but there is no way that 16 miles away from a road being closed it should say road ahead closed at a major junction. It is just insane. It is completely ridiculous. If you've got holidaymakers they don't know the roads and if you are driving you don't have time to read the six signs.

"It is just so confusing. It shouldn't say road ahead closed. It should say road closed in 16 miles or something like that. It is ridiculous and it is everywhere," said Caroline.

"It is just bad signage. Every little road that you are turning on to go onto the A338 to go north to Salisbury it says road ahead closed. It is just not helpful at all."

She added: "It is really important [that these signs get sorted out] for me and all the businesses along the A338 because a lot of them rely on people being able to pop to Fordingbridge to have a look at the shops. If they don't think they can nip to Fordingbridge or Downton then they are not going to come and there is not going to be any business.

"It is just not helping. This is time of holidaymakers and if they are seeing road ahead closed signs they are not going to come to this side of the Forest. They are just going to go somewhere else," said Caroline, who says further road works are planned later this month for Salisbury Street in Fordingbridge.

"I get a letter last week telling me Salisbury Street is going to be closed from the 21st September so that will have another ridiculous detour. We are going to have three weeks of this and then three weeks of that. We are just not going to have anymore customers."

Dave Tree, of All the Cool Stuff in Fordingbridge, said trade was usually quieter in the town when the schools go back but it was "difficult to tell" if the A338 signage was having a significant impact due to the impact on trade of the pandemic.

But he added: "It definitely doesn't help. I am very surprised at the way the signage has been presented.

"Your natural assumption would be that that you can't get into Fordingbridge. It can be interpreted as misleading which doesn't help when you have already got diminished numbers in the town."

He added the Salisbury Street road works would be a "second whammy" for the town.

Cllr Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council's cabinet member for highways, said: “We have placed advance signs far afield so that people are aware of the A338 closure and can choose an alternative route, including following the official diversion.

“Notices of the advanced works were placed as pre-warning two weeks ahead of the start of the scheme, and signs are in place for the duration of the works, including signs that advise of businesses being open as usual.

“The signs on the approach to Fordingbridge clearly state that there is no access to Salisbury on the A338, and that traffic should follow the diversion. It does not encourage motorists to avoid Fordingbridge.”

A Hampshire County Council spokesperson said: "The signs referred to have been erected by Wiltshire Council for resurfacing works in Downton Road, Salisbury. We will follow this matter up with Wiltshire colleagues."