THE Weymouth to Dorchester corridor is set to get £2.4m to encourage walking, cycling and the use of public transport.

It includes a new Weymouth-Dorchester express bus service and expansion of local car clubs.

The scheme comes as part of a transport boost which will see the south west of England benefit from seven transport schemes.

The £26m of government funding was given the green light yesterday by Transport Minister Norman Baker.

Local councils will also make contributions to the schemes.

Mr Baker said: “The schemes we are funding will benefit those living in the south west by cutting carbon emissions, reducing congestion and stimulating economic growth in the area.

“We are signalling our commitment to green growth, which will help to kick-start economic activity in the region while improving access to healthier forms of transport.”

It is hoped that projects will reduce delays on the roads in urban areas, help tackle problems such as poor air quality and improve cycling and walking infrastructure.

The projects are among 30 successful bids receiving funding across England.

Councillor Pamela Nixon, who represents Wey Valley in Weymouth, said local people would really benefit from a new bus service.

She added: “I know a lot of people in Weymouth and Dorchester who now use public transport and leave their cars at home so would benefit from this.”

Others said the boost was positive but had concern over the more pressing transport issue of unclear road signs Councillor Ian Bruce, who represents Preston ward in Weymouth, said: “We are grateful for the government funds.

“It is important to encourage this initiative and visitors will have more options. However, we have a number of issues raised from our own relief road – such as unclear road signs and concern over visitors finding Weymouth, which is really important especially ahead of the Olympics.”

George and Jean Harris, the owners of The Bay Guest House in Waterloo Place, said such funds could be spent elsewhere.

Mr Harris added: “It is good that money is being spent here but our concern is that visitors can’t find Weymouth due to unclear road signs. This money could be spent elsewhere on more important things.”

Projects are designed to help reduce the £11billion lost each year to delays by making it easier for people to access work and school.

Bournemouth is also set to get £4.6m for a package of measures to encourage cycling and walking in the town.

Building on relief road benefits

A SPOKESMAN for Dorset County Council said: “Dorset County Council has been awarded £2.4m of funding by the Department of Transport towards a programme of sustainable transport measures which will be delivered over the next three years. “The money will contribute towards £6.2m of improvements in the Weymouth-Dorchester area.

“The improvements will benefit bus users, cyclists and local businesses.

“The programme will build on the benefits gained from the Weymouth Relief Road and Weymouth Transport Package and will include better, faster bus services between Weymouth and Dorchester, more dedicated cycle routes in the towns and measures to further reduce traffic congestion.”