Protesters gather outside St Peter's Church
A Petersfield man fears he will be run out of town if Hampshire County Council (HCC) has its way.
Andy Board, of Tilmore Road, says he has received unprecedented and unwarranted abuse since HCC stated that A Boards were to be banned from Petersfield streets.
Mr Board said: “Since that ruling I’ve been unable to go out until after dark – and even then in disguise. For the first two days I didn’t dare venture out of the house.
“In the end I had to risk the wrath of the council because I was out of all the staples of everyday food.
“I simply don’t understand why they have decided to pick on me and my family.”
The ruling, reported widely in the local media in the absence of any election stories, has also been responsible for the cancellation of a visit to Petersfield by the former Australian cricket captain Alan Border.
A spokesman for the Australian cricket board said: “We’re stunned that a small market town in East Hampshire could refuse to allow one of the world’s greatest cricketers to walk their streets.
“What has he done to deserve that … apart from hitting English bowlers to all four corners of the circular globe?”
An HCC spokesman insisted that everybody had jumped to the wrong conclusion.
He said: “Everybody appears confused by recent events. What we wanted to remove from the streets is ‘A broad’ who stands by the statue in the square on Friday and Saturday nights touting for business.
"Her presence there is most unwelcome and has proved a health and safety distraction for many people of impaired eyesight.”
But despite that clarification, not all of the town’s residents were happy.
Cam Payne, the founder member of Petersfield Residents Against Things (PRATS), believes the council have still gone to far.
“This ban may well damage the local economy,” he insisted.
“One only has to look to Norfolk to see how vital the broads there are to the tourism industry. Driving them out of Petersfield could cause irreparable damage to the economy – but it will give me something to get my teeth into, so to speak…”
The new MP for East Hampshire, Julian Hindsight, said succinctly: “What the **** is happening to this once-proud country of ours?”