REDUCTIONS in air pollution in Dorchester during the pandemic can only be maintained by changing ways of working – according to town mayor Richard Biggs.

“The only real solution is to have reduced traffic volumes extended past the current Covid-19 crisis through better ways of working, in other words far more home working and staggered working as well as the public encouraged not to drive into town but to walk, cycle or use public transport,” he told the town council on Monday evening.

He was responding to a question from former councillor Gerald Duke who asked the council to come up with a policy to reduce pollution from traffic.

Mr Duke has previously suggested that Dorchester introduces its own charging zone to impose penalties on heavy vehicles which continue to drive, illegally, through the town centre – an idea which was rejected.

Cllr Biggs said that one of the keys to managing vehicles would be to agree the long delayed parking strategy for the town.

“It has been a long standing aspiration of Dorchester town council to make part of the High Street area pedestrianised. In fact it was mentioned in my Mayoral speech of 1997.

“The idea was included by the then highway authority, Dorset County Council in the first Dorchester Transport and Environment Plan, but was removed with reluctance, after extensive consultation highlighted significant opposition from other areas of the town that would see the traffic volumes

and subsequent pollution increase dramatically as a direct result of any change in the High Streets. Thus merely moving the problem rather than resolving it.”

He said the town council would continue to lobby the Dorset Council, as highway authority, to update its transport and parking strategy to reflect the climate change emergency and the opportunities that the current crisis has presented to the ways that the big employers manage their workforce to reduce traffic.