TRADERS and residents have had their first chance to say how Poole council should spend £1million on improving Parkstone’s Ashley Road.

The improvements are due as part of a £12million scheme to improve the main route through Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.

Under the Three Towns Travel Partnership, the area’s three highways authorities have landed government grants towards easing congestion and promoting sustainable transport. A consultation meeting, which ran for more than six hours at Parkstone Baptist Church, saw the public asked to write down their own suggestions for improving the area.

Cllr Xena Dion, Borough of Poole’s cabinet member for transport, told the meeting: “It’s not about us today, it’s about you and your views. The purpose of the event is to get people’s views on what is quite a significant piece of work in Ashley Road right at the beginning. It’s really impossible to produce a scheme that absolutely everybody is happy with but what we want to do is get as good a balance as we can for all road users – pedestrians, cyclists, bus travellers, residents, traders, motorists, everybody that has a right to use the road. It’s the second largest retail area in Poole. It’s a very important area for the economy and it’s identified within our core strategy as needing some improvement to the quality of the public realm.”

Residents were asked to rank a number of issues by priority: congestion, cycling, pedestrian, the “public realm” and buses.

The meeting heard that 20,000 cars a day use the route and there are buses every two minutes. The road has five sets of traffic lights – three at junctions and two at crossings – and 13 bus stops.

The whole area from Pearson Avenue to Albert Road has been identified as an area of concern over traffic pollution. The public was told the government would expect the council to take action on air pollution, 57 per cent of which was caused by traffic fumes.