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Residents and businesses react angrily to £650,000 'enhancement' scheme
RESIDENTS and businesses have reacted with fury and frustration over a £650,000 ‘enhancement’ scheme which they say has left West Bay ‘like a war zone’.
More than 100 people flocked to a meeting chaired by MP Oliver Letwin and anger erupted into jeers of derision when they learned that no council officers would be turning up.
Locals reacted with disbelief when told one of the main objectives of the new scheme was to discourage cars from reaching the harbourside.
The meeting at St John’s Church was prompted by months of disruption as road layouts have been changed, and fears for the future if trippers find it increasingly difficult to reach the harbour as the hoped-for “Broadchurch effect” kicks in.
Most controversial issues in the latest scheme are a ‘pinch point’ outside the Haddon House Hotel to restrict traffic flow and changing the road priority away from the harbour by making what people claim is a potentially dangerous new junction.
So-called ‘pedestrian-friendly’ paved areas were also slated.
A panel representing businesses, residents, shops, restaurants and hoteliers said the consultation was simply ‘lip service’ to local needs.
Lindsey Blair, proprietor of Harbour Stores, the Quarter Deck bar and Durbeyfield Guest House, said: “No consultation led us to believe the Bay would become a sort of war zone.
“Queues will reach back to the Crown roundabout and West Bay will have no chance at all.”
Oliver Letwin said the meeting had been ‘imm-ensely useful’.
He said: “Clearly, there needs to be a proper assessment of what has happened here.”
The MP said changes to signage should be looked at urgently and the possibility of reparishing could be investigated.
Traders and business leaders hope the ‘Broadchurch effect’ will lead to a bumper summer for West Dorset.
The Jurassic Coast scenery is a major feature of the series written by Chris Chibnall from Bridport.
District: We have consulted
WEST Dorset District Council leader Robert Gould said after the meeting: “The district council has consulted the public throughout the planning of the West Bay Enhancement Scheme and has used residents’ responses to help shape the £1.25m project.
“The environmental improvements and traffic management works currently under way are the final step in the scheme, which was prepared with the help of a local steering group and the wider public.
“Further consultation exercises on specific projects were also carried out and, more recently, the council held an informal drop-in session for local residents and businesses to find out more.
“The district council did contact meeting organisers before to explain that even though a representative couldn’t attend this meeting, we would be happy to receive any notes taken or questions raised from the meeting and would be happy to address those concerns. We also sent information about the scheme to the meeting organisers.”