FUNDING of more than a half a million pounds to combat congestion and give people better access to job opportunities has been welcomed in Dorset.

As reported in the Echo, the county has been awarded £570,000 from the Department for Transport through its Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF).

Three key business areas across the county – including the Portland-Weymouth Dorchester corridor, Ferndown Industrial Estate and The Aviation Business Park in Bournemouth – will all see travel improvements including new walking and cycling routes over the next 12 months thanks to the grant.

DCC aims to improve access to jobs and support the economy by investing in, and promoting sustainable travel.

LSTF funding has already made a difference locally – last month the final section of the Portland-Weymouth-Dorchester cycleway was opened between Southill and Radipole.

The new programme will build on the success of the current LSTF project which has been running for the last two years.

Peter Finney, the county council’s cabinet member for environment and the economy, said: “We are delighted to receive this new funding. It provides a great opportunity for local people when they are looking for jobs and for businesses recruiting staff.

“By investing further in sustainable transport we’ll be opening up new ways for people to get to work who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get there.”

The project will also see a £2.72million investment from Dorset County Council, through its local transport plan.

Dorset County Council’s principal transport planner Adam Bows said: “We’ll be working with individual households, giving out personalised travel advice and looking at ways of reducing the number of local trips made by car.

“Grant funding will also be available to businesses to help them improve access to their sites for customers, staff and visitors.”

One of the project’s aims is to reduce car journeys on the county’s roads, which will reduce traffic congestion and cut carbon emissions.

Mr Bows added: “We recognise that for some people travelling by car is the only option. So we’ll be encouraging commuters to try car sharing or looking at travelling outside of peak times.

“Just a small percentage of people changing the way they travel will make a big difference to journey times on Dorset’s roads.”

A range of local partners support the programme, including the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, business leaders, community groups, district and borough councils, health providers and sustainable travel organisations.

They are committed to making it easier for people to travel in ways that are cheaper, reliable and environmentally sustainable.