PLANS to overhaul traffic in Dorchester have come under fire after it emerged that almost £1million has been spent with ‘nothing at all to show for it’.
Town and county councillor Trevor Jones quoted the figure and made the comment at a Dorset County Council cabinet meeting.
Councillors at the meeting at County Hall yesterday agreed to refer the issue to the asset management group as a high priority to be looked at – but town councillor and chairman of the working group for the Dorchester Transport and Environment Plan (DTEP) Andy Canning said this decision could ‘put the plan back for another decade’.
He said: “We are now 12 years into this project. It has been a difficult situation and we have been trying to progress a serious scheme with a much reduced budget.”
He argued in favour of further public consultation for residents to decide whether they would prefer the revised scheme to be implemented or parts of it to be progressed.
Referring the issue to the asset management group, he argued, is ‘kicking it into the long grass’.
He added: “Dorchester is growing, improving its economy and this could be part of the project to do that along with changes to Charles Street and the car parking system. It is all part of the package which will lead to growth in Dorchester.”
But County Councillor Robert Gould said: “The current proposals were approved by cabinet in February 2013 and my concern is that now things have changed. I do not think it’s a question of putting it into the long grass.”
Cllr Jones said he approved of the matter being looked at by the asset management group if this could be done as a priority. He added: “We can’t carry on like this. We have spent approaching £1million and we have nothing at all to show for it. That is totally an undesirable position to be in.”
Cllr Jones said plans would now look at getting traffic through the town ‘as quickly as possible’ instead of redistributing it.
Chairman of the cabinet Spencer Flower pledged to ensure the issue is addressed by the asset management group ‘with urgency’.
He added: “I am disappointed that we are where we are but what we do not want to end up with is a scheme that is to the dissatisfaction of the people we serve.”
Chairman of the town council's planning and environment committee, Cllr Susie Hosford, said: “We are disappointed that county councillors felt they had to take this back before moving it forward. It would be an appalling waste of taxpayers’ money if there was nothing at the end to show for all of this. But we are cautiously optimistic following this meeting that it will now progress fairly quickly.”