BUSINESSES have slammed the idea of turning Bournemouth’s Spur Road into a toll road to help fund essential repairs.

Christchurch MP Chris Chope made the suggestion last week after claiming more radical ideas need to be considered to find the £26million to pay for the urgent work.

The resurfacing of Bournemouth’s main artery was supposed to begin in September 2010 but the funding from the Department of Transport was pulled due to budget cuts.

Nigel Hedges, president of Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said a toll road would be hugely damaging for businesses in the town.

“We know how it affects business and tourism when there’s an accident on this road.

“People will say: ‘I am not going to pay it’ and will look at other ways of getting to town.

“They will go on the already congested suburbs of Ferndown and Barrack Road in Christchurch. We will have a road with light traffic on it and every other single carriageway jammed.

“The A338 is Bournemouth’s lifeblood.

“From Bournemouth chamber’s point of view, we just couldn’t contemplate it.

“In purely scientific terms it makes total sense to charge people to use a facility but people will always try and find a way around it.”

Peter Matthews, manager of Castlepoint shopping centre in Bournemouth, said: “I am amazed that someone could consider that a major artery into Bournemouth for tourism, as well as for business and people who live here, should be tolled.

“I would understand if it was a relief road made especially to get people in and out of town but this is a primary artery.”

Turning the A338 Spur Road into a toll road would also have a huge impact on those travelling to Bournemouth Airport, but a spokesman for the airport declined to comment.

Mike Francis, strategy and policy officer on Bournemouth Tourism Management Board said: “It would be completely against all our tourism ideas to welcome people into the town.

“People would drive right on past. It would be a disaster.”