ROAD signs warning of a closure to the High Street because of a street procession left Royal Wootton Bassett traders furious.

The High Street was expected to be closed between 11am and 12pm on Saturday to allow the procession to parade through the town to Ballards Ash as part of the rugby club’s opening celebrations.

But a signage bungle by company Traffic Management Services (Retford) Limited saw traffic and footfall reduced to a trickle on what should be one of the busiest days of the week for many of the town’s shops.

Traffic signs intended to notify drivers of a 30-minute closure at 11am were put out before 9am on every route into and out of the town, turning Bassett into a ghost town.

Hazel Newson, Chairman of the Business Association and owner of gift shop Dandelion, said: “The signs were up at about 8 in the morning but it was only supposed to be closed between 11am and 12pm.

“People were having to park and walk up. To get people to come shopping anyway is a challenge without having to contend with street closures.

“By 12pm the signs were still up so we rang the police but they said that it wasn’t down to them and so we then rang Wiltshire Council.”

At about 12pm, when the signs should have been removed following the 15-minute parade, local business owners took the initiative and turned the signs around so drivers couldn’t see them Lesley Allcorn, who jointly owns Seasons Tea Rooms with Caroline Little, said the cafe in the Apsley Arcade was one of the businesses affected by the extended road closure and lost about 40 per cent of its average Saturday takings.

She said: “I think a lot of businesses were affected by it.

“They were very, very quiet on Saturday because the road was closed. A lot of people didn’t bother coming into Royal Wootton Bassett when they saw the signs.

“It’s a shame that the road closed signs were up so early. I know that they have to get prepared but it was only supposed to be closed between 11am and 12pm.”

The road closed to allow the marching band to progress down the High Street as part of the opening celebrations for the rugby club’s £1.3m new clubhouse, and businesses were clear they did not blame the rugby club for the issues.

Hazel said: “Traders had no problems with the rugby club. They did this with the best intentions to bring people to the High Street. They came and spoke to us about it and they wanted to bring more people here.”

Traffic Management Services (Retford) Limited were unable to comment.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Council said they would investigate the situation.