WORK to create a new cycle path in Somerford, as part of the Three Towns Travel scheme, will begin today and continue for nearly two months.

The new purpose-built, off-road cycleway/footpath will run along the length of Somerford Road.

Dorset County Council’s £140,000 scheme – funded through a government grant – aims to provide a safe off-road link, improving access to the town centre by bike and encouraging more people to cycle.

However, Cllr David Jones, county councillor for Grange ward, said: “While there are certain minor aspects of the scheme which can be welcomed, such as the improved crossing over Purewell Crossroads and the promise to repair the surface of the service road where needed, this scheme will do absolutely nothing for the real transport needs of Somerford and Grange or indeed for Christchurch or for the greater majority of road users.”

Work will start at the Somerford Hotel end of the route, working back towards Purewell Crossroads.

The route follows the service road in front of the houses to the north of the road and work is expected to finish at the end of May.

The council will aim to keep disruption to a minimum.

Andrew Bradley, the council’s management engineer, said: "This cycleway/footpath is part of a much wider Three Towns Travel project, which aims to make it easier for people to get around Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole using sustainable transport - walking, cycling and using a bus instead of travelling by car.

“Overall, it will help to improve air quality, reduce traffic flows and help make the area more attractive to businesses, shoppers and visitors.”

Cllr Hilary Cox, the council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “We have been working with the local county and borough councillors for some time on this project to ensure access to the town centre is improved without residents needing to use their car.”