BOURNEMOUTH has become the sixth most congested town in the UK, moving up the league table since last year.

A survey suggests traffic hold-ups are costing business £9.27million a year, up £1.3m from 2016.

Ian Girling, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “There is no doubt this is a huge issue, not just in Bournemouth but across the entire conurbation.

“Travel times are excessive, particularly around peak times and it’s clear there is a huge cost in terms of time and business. I am hopeful that local government reorganisation, with the proposed development of single unitary authority for South East Dorset, will support the development of a strategic plan for transport infrastructure for the whole conurbation. This has also been recognised by the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership with their investment in the road infrastructure.

“We also need to encourage employers to consider options such as the flexibility to work at home and perhaps have staggered start times. We need to consider issues such as improved public transport and encourage employers to incentivise staff to cycle to work where safe and possible.”

Both the main local bus companies have voiced their concerns about congestion.

Andrew Wickham, managing director of Morebus, said: “Congestion in around Bournemouth and Poole should certainly be addressed. Not only does it hold back productivity, it also contributes to air pollution.”

He said Morebus had one of the newest and cleanest fleets in the region and had coached its drivers to drive economically.

He added: “It is important that all those who have a vested interest in reducing congestion – including bus operators, local authorities and businesses – work together in partnership to find a solution that works for us, and for those who choose to travel here.”

David Squire, managing director of Yellow Buses, said: “This research confirms what we know only too well. Our biggest frustration locally is congestion. Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole particularly suffer because of the linear nature of development along the coast. There is little room to move that traffic away from the main road linking them and, of course, we have many smaller retail areas that sit between the main towns.

“We are certainly not anti-car, there will always be the need for them. However, we need to urgently tackle congestion across the area, working closely with our local authority partners and other interested parties.”

The TomTom Traffic Index calculated the average time road journeys were taking and compared them with the time they would take in free-flowing conditions.