SPEEDING motorists appear to be getting the message as Dorchester’s first community speedwatch scheme makes its presence felt.

Volunteers have been out in Herringston Road recording the speed of passing motorists over recent weeks in the first initiative of its type in the county town.

Co-ordinator Barry Preedy said that since the scheme started in April it has now attracted 11 volunteers and they are able to spend three to four sessions a week out in the road, which has in the past been plagued by speeding drivers.

Signs have also been placed at either end of the road warning motorists they are entering a community speedwatch area.

Mr Preedy said in the first couple of months the volunteers, who go out in teams of three, have recorded 37 motorists driving in excess of 36mph – with the highest speed recorded 46mph.

However, they have also been recorded volumes of traffic with up to 280 vehicles recorded in a 45-minute period and Mr Preedy said overall he thinks the number of speeding vehicles has gone down since the scheme began.

He said: “We think it’s had an effect on traffic in terms of speed.

“It’s always difficult to judge but certainly people tell us they think they have noticed the difference and when we are doing it we are getting a lot of encouraging support from people who think it’s helpful.”

The volunteers pass on the details of speeding motorists to the police and a letter is sent out to them, warning the driver that they have been recorded driving in excess of the speed limit.

Mr Preedy said the scheme had been well supported by the town’s Safer Neighbourhood police team and Dorchester Town Council.

The volunteers were given the equipment for the scheme by the police for a trial period and they are now hopeful the town council will agree to fund new equipment when it has to be returned to the police so the scheme can continue in the long term.

The town council has previously agreed in principle to support community speedwatch projects in the town.

Mr Preedy said he would certainly recommend the scheme to any other areas of the town where people are thinking of setting up their own speedwatch group or have a problem with speeding traffic.

He said: “If they have got a problem with the speed of traffic I think it does have a significant effect.”