SERVICES across the area were affected due to the weather yesterday.

Bin collections were suspended across the board - with Poole's again not being collected today and the same situation on St Catherine's Hill in Christchurch.

Children's centres in Swanage, Upton, Poole, Wareham, Wool and Bovington were closed, as was Swanage Library and Sturminster and West Moors mobile libraries.

Day centres in Blandford, Stourcastle and Sturminster Newton were closed.

A spokesperson for the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch hospitals said they had not experienced an increase in pressures but that they had contingency plans if necessary and urged people to be cautious.

South Western Ambulance Service's chief executive Ken Wenman said the service had been on major incident standby, cancelling all non-urgent patient transport services.

He added: "Staff are doing a magnificent job of reaching patients calling for help in what can only be described as some of the most treacherous driving conditions ever faced by the service.

He said there are "dozens" of extra clinicians working within the busy ambulance control centres Dorset.

Trust medical director Dr Andy Smith urged people to stay inside and keep an eye on elderly neighbours.

The shops also suffered as people stayed at home.

Peter Matthews, Castlepoint manager, said: "For us the last weekend before Christmas is not the busiest weekend of the year, but we were obviously affected by the fact that people had difficulty in getting out of their homes.

"Saturday was way down on the year and Sunday was the same, but last week in total we were just nine per cent down on the year, which, given the weather that we had, was remarkable.

"If the weather eases off then people will come out to desperately fill their shelves and fridges and to do their last minute shopping. If the weather doesn't improve, they will have to do that locally. It should get busier the closer we get to Friday and Thursday is usually the busiest day."

Splashdown at Tower Park was also closed yesterday.