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Critics slam council proposals on traffic scheme for Dorchester
RESIDENTS have again raised their concerns over a controversial traffic scheme for Dorchester.
Members of the public got to address Dorchester Town Council’s planning and environment committee as it considered its response to the Dorchester Transport and Environment Plan (DTEP) consultation process being carried out by Dorset County Council.
Representatives from the county council were the first to address members about the DTEP scheme at the Corn Exchange.
Proposals for the scheme include making High West Street and part of High East Street one-way and changing the direction of flow on some roads in a bid to improve air quality.
Tim Norman, chief engineer for highway improvements at the county council, outlined the changes from an original scheme put forward in 2005, that would have cost £10million compared to the £5m cost of the current scheme. He said the new proposal was a phased approach that would be easily reversible and could still see the full benefits of the original scheme, such as pedestrianisation in the High Street, realised eventually.
Mr Norman said: “This scheme is reversible, it’s acceptable and it’s able to provide a pathway to the full scheme that we had before.
“I do accept any change to the traffic network in Dorchester is bound to cause anxiety.
“We want you to have your say, that is the purpose of public re-engagement.”
Mr Norman added: “This is an opportunity for Dorchester.
“Really it’s whether you want a town that’s dominated by cars or if you want a more vibrant, attractive and sustainable Dorchester.”
West Dorset District Council’s director for environment David Evans also addressed the meeting to highlight the benefits the scheme could have for the air quality in the town centre.
He said: “It is not just a transport scheme, this is as much about creating a better environment in Dorchester as it is about transport.”
More than 20 local residents addressed the committee to express concerns about the scheme.
Great Western Road resident Simon Dinnage said: “This is a fundamentally flawed and limited plan and I urge you to reject it.”
Chairman of the Dorchester Civic Society Alan Rowley said: “Our view is that this scheme simply doesn’t deliver. There are too many losers and not enough winners.”
Councillor Andy Canning said it was important council officers listened to residents’ concerns.
He said: “The plan that is being consulted on at the moment just isn’t acceptable as it is.”
Coun Trevor Jones warned that if the scheme was abandoned now rather than amended it was unlikely to ever be available again to improve traffic and the environment in Dorchester. He said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something.”
• THE committee passed a resolution to state it continues to support the main aims of the DTEP.
However, it stated it was unable to support any solution that creates significant additional traffic and air quality issues on residential streets in the town, particularly Great Western Road, Cornwall Road and Princes Street, which creates access issues to North Square and fails to deal with safety issues at Top O’ Town roundabout.
The resolution also proposed town council officers meet county and district council colleagues to look at further options.
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