SAFETY concerns have been raised over sponsorship of roundabouts in Dorset.

The county council has agreed a deal with firm Marketing Force to make advertising space available on its roundabouts.

The move is expected to bring in up to £100,000 for the council.

However, fears have already been raised that new signage could detract from the county’s roundabouts and prove distracting for drivers.

Warren Davis lives near the roundabout by Max Gate on the A352 heading out of Dorchester .

He said the signs in place at the moment urging people to contact Marketing Force to use the advertising space are a hazard.

Mr Davis said: “They are ridiculous – what you have done is put small signs with an advert for the company selling the services right up against the kerb.

“When you drive past them you are only a few feet away and you have to slow down quite spectacularly to read it.”

Mr Davis said the roundabout had also been recently planted, only to now have advertising signs detracting from it.

A spokesman for Dorset County Council insisted no signs would be allowed to be erected if they were deemed to be a safety hazard for drivers.

She said: “As a highway authority, our first duty is to ensure safety. We wouldn't consider anything that made the roads less safe.”

She added that the sponsorship scheme was expected to bring in around £100,000 for the council this year, with nearly half of that already achieved.

The spokesman said: “Roundabout sponsorship is acknowledged as an accepted form of fundraising and has been implemented in many parts of the country.

“We hope that the scheme will bring in £100,000 this year.

“All the money will go into verge and roundabout maintenance, to augment falling budgets.

“In about six weeks, we have sold around half the available roundabouts and brought in just over £40,000 to the council.

“We believe the benefits of this scheme far outweigh any disadvantages.”

Concerns were also raised at the last full meeting of Dorset County Council about local parish and town councils that already had existing arrangements with private companies to maintain their roundabouts.

The council spokesman said: “Where possible, we have allowed existing arrangements to continue, where they fit in with the scheme.”

‘Not 100 per cent happy’

COUNTY councillor David Crowhurst admitted he was ‘not 100 per cent happy’ with the move towards roundabout sponsorship but accepts money needs to be found somewhere.

The member for the Linden Lea ward, who is Mr Davis’ local councillor, said other councillors had also raised concerns – principally on the impact on existing agreements in place with parish councils.

Councillor Crowhurst said: “It was done to create some revenue to put into the pot against a background of reduced grants and a reduced budget.

“It’s all gone through and a number of members are not happy about it and have expressed concerns so it will be interesting to see how it develops.”

He added: “I’m not one hundred per cent happy with it – we have to try and create some revenue from somewhere but as a local county council member I would look to see if there are different ways of doing it.”