A congestion charge for cross-Dorchester HGV traffic has moved a step closer after winning backing from the town council.

The idea will now be investigated further.

If successful heavy lorries, which should not be coming into the town centre, will be picked up by a camera system and their owners sent a penalty demand.

The idea was put forward by Conservative councillor Gerald Duke and has won the backing of the Liberal Democrat dominated town council.

It comes after concerns about lorries travelling through the town, causing noise and pollution when the bypass is busy. One councillor claims the police have never enforced the legal ban which has been in place since the town bypass was opened.

Cllr Duke says that strategically placed cameras at locations such as London Road, The Grove, Bridport Road and Monkey's Jump would pick up HGVs coming through the town in a set time, possibly 20 minutes, and automatically send off charge notices. Locally registered vehicles would be filtered out on the system.

Town councillors, at their meeting on Tuesday evening, universally backed the idea,which will now go to the Dorchester Transport and Environment Plan stakeholder group to progress the idea.

Cllr Andy Canning, who chairs the group, welcomed the proposal which has only recently become possible because of the introduction of new legislation.

“This is a useful contribution to how we might tackle the problem...I will ask district and county council officers to bring forward a report,” he said.

Said independent councillor Alistair Chisholm: “It's an excellent idea – we should pursue it with some vigour...

“The cameras would be extremely useful. At certain times HGV drivers know its quicker to go through the town rather than around the bypass. If we had the cameras word would quickly spread. At the moment lots of drivers are breaking the law and getting away with it.”

Cllr Duke said something needed to done now traffic levels in the town were higher than when the bypass opened.

He said that West Dorset MP Sir Oliver Letwin had discovered legislation, published in March this year, which would enable the scheme to go ahead: “All that is required is the will to do it,” he said.

Cllr Tony Lyall claimed that the idea of prosecuting offending drivers had been first suggested about eight years ago, but was rejected as unenforceable by the then local police inspector.

“We talked about it, we discussed it, it was reported in the Echo but nobody actually did anything,” he said.