HIGHWAYS chiefs have come under fire for offering a ‘dangerous’ stretch of road subject to a speed petition as an alternative to a closed footpath.

Residents of Forston near Dorchester have hit out at Dorset County Council after it marked up the A352 through the village as an alternative route during water works at Charmister.

They have been lobbying the authority to cut the speed limit from 60mph to 30mph because they say it is just ‘a matter of time before someone is killed.’ Campaign leader Gill Reese said: “I don’t see how they can justify closing a public right of way for six months and having this road - which we have said is extremely dangerous - as an alternative.

“There is no verge, if you do walk along the road you have to pin yourself against the hedges every time a car comes speeding past.

“You can’t possibly use this road as a walking route. If you were walking your dog you’d have to keep picking it up and as for taking children along here- you wouldn’t dare.

“I can not understand how the county council can offer this as any sort of alternative.”

The closure is required to allow Atkins, on behalf of Wessex Water, safe access to construct a new water main.

The closure is a six month extension - the order was originally put in place in June last year, but poor weather meant the work could not be completed.

But the alternative route asks walkers to go along the A352 for 1,750 metres - through Forston - to the junction with Herrison Road.

A spokesman for the council said: “This is an advised route only - the diversion is the only direct alternative route.

“It was agreed in June of last year and has been in place since October 2013.”

Mrs Reese says the campaigners who have met with West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin have heard nothing about the petition from the council.

They say they started to take action following a number of collisions on the road.

The last was around two weeks ago when a car crashed in to a telegraph pole. Resident David Doyle has been documenting accidents to prove why the road needs a speed restriction.

He said: “It’s got to the stage where every time I hear an accident I am petrified it’s going to be a neighbour or family member.

“We are just waiting for a fatal accident.

“We’ve had some serious ones but it is very lucky that nobody has been more seriously hurt.

“We have an opportunity here to try and prevent an accident - we need to take it.”