FURIOUS residents have written to highways chiefs demanding to know why they were only given a couple of days’ notice of major Brexit-related roadworks.

The outside lane of the A31 is currently closed in both directions between the Alresford and Winchester while work is being carried out to create a lorry park.

However, Alresford residents heading towards Winchester now face a six-mile diversion to join the A31 at the same point due to the Ladycroft Roundabout’s design.

Residents are also furious they received a letter from Hampshire Highways notifying them of the work on Saturday. The letter was dated Thursday February 28.

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One of those was Kristina Fearnley, of Alresford Road, who said: “Our family is already feeling the affects of this monstrous decision.

“There are a large number of residents and businesses between the Percy Hobbs and Ladycroft roundabouts that are affected and who have been given little or no time to prepare for these works.”

The work is being carried out to by Hampshire Highways with the Local Resilience Forum, which comprises agencies, such as the police, fire, ambulance and local authorities, businesses and voluntary organisation, to prepare for the Port of Portsmouth becoming blocked during a no-deal Brexit.

There are fears that if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a withdrawal agreement on Friday March 29, extra checks at the port will create a backlog of vehicles and congestion.

Hampshire Highways says the 5km section of the A31 dual carriageway between Winchester and Alresford has the potential to hold between 200 and 300 lorries.

Should the lorry park be needed the eastbound carriageway would take both sets of traffic on a contraflow which would cause traffic delays.

Responding to the fury, Winchester Steve Brine MP said: “For a start, the PM has confirmed Parliament will have to agree to our leaving the EU with no withdrawal agreement in place and I’m confident we won’t allow that.

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“But on the A31 specifically, I am clear this work is the wrong response from the LRF, which is contrary to the modelling provided by the DfT (Department for Transport) around lorry movement from Portsmouth, should there be any interruption to the roll-on, roll-off process.

“But if, and they can answer why they’re doing this, they insisted on going ahead it’s unacceptable not to inform local residents and that goes for local councillors as much anyone else.”

Liberal Democrat Winchester city councillors have also slammed Mr Brine for not being aware of the works.

County and city councillor Jackie Porter: “It is extraordinary that we, and our MP, have only just heard about this panic proposal by the county to use the A31 in the case of a no-deal Brexit, just days before implementation. It’s a measure which will have a significant impact on the whole of Winchester, and Alresford in particular.

“The last time the A31 was used as vehicle park was during World War 2 when Britain fought for our friends in Europe. It is ironic to see it used again as the government now plans to do just the opposite.”

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City councillor Kim Gottlieb added: “In a classic example of joined-up government planning, someone must have forgotten to tell Steve Brine about the proposal to create a lorry park on a major thoroughfare just outside Winchester.

“So certain was he that the stories about a lorry park on the M3, which began to circulate several weeks ago, he wrote to a local resident to say, “sorry to spoil the party but it seems #fakenews even reaches Hampshire!”

As previously reported, it was rumoured a stretch of the M3 would be used as a lorry park in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, the was denied by transport secretary Chris Grayling. In a letter to Mr Brine, he said: “We... have no plans whatsoever to close the M3 or any other roads outside Kent in a no-deal scenario.”

Mr Brine is yet to respond to claims he was not aware of the works.

Defending the scheme, Cllr Rob Humby, executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, said: “As part of the Hampshire LRF, we’re supporting plans to mitigate the potential impact of increased freight traffic around Portsmouth and the effect this could have on local communities.

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“We’ve identified a stretch of the A31 to complement the work going on at Tipner, making sure we’re as prepared as we can be in this uncertain situation. I would like to reassure local residents that careful preparations are in hand through the LRF.”

A Hampshire County Council spokeswoman added: “The Local Resilience Forum (LRF) has identified the impact of a no-deal to be mainly on the Port of Portsmouth. We are not so concerned about Southampton because of the different kind of freight. But Portsmouth has been identified as an area where contingency planning needs to be put in place.”

The LRF has scoped a number of options for potential triage and holding sites for the anticipated additional numbers of lorries that may be delayed at the ports due to slower turnaround times, or who may choose to access Portsmouth rather than use services at Dover.

Chairman of the LRF Strategic Coordinating Group, Neil Odin, Chief Fire Officer for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our role within the LRF is to plan for the reasonable worst case scenarios set out in the Government’s contingency planning assumptions.

“We have been working extremely hard to identify what that is and look at the ways we can mitigate and manage the risks that are likely to arise.

“Within Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, the planning has focused on disruption at the roll-on, roll-off port at Portsmouth and the resulting impact any delay would have on the surrounding road network and beyond, on communities attempting to navigate their way around the city, the close proximity of the Naval Base and the reliance of the Channel Islands on the port for supplies.

“Due to the length of time required to ensure these measures are up and running in the event of exiting the EU without a withdrawal agreement on March 29, and with that option still a possibility, our partners have had to invoke emergency plans to make this happen within the required timescale.”