CHRISTCHURCH residents fear their town will come to a standstill if nothing is done to alleviate traffic problems.

Members of Christchurch Citizens’ Association aired their concerns about the level of congestion in the town at a meeting involving transport officials from Dorset County Council (DCC).

And with the opening of a new primary school off Fairmile Road this summer and plans for a major housing development at Roeshot Hill under way, the congestion is set to get worse, they claim.

Sue Bungey, chair of the association, said at Monday’s meeting at Druitt Hall: “There’s a lot of bad feeling and concern about congestion in Christchurch. It takes an hour-and-a-half to get from Mudeford to Poole sometimes, which is absolutely unacceptable.

“We need more than small improvements, we need a better road system in Christchurch.”

Helen Jackson, principal transport planner for DCC, told the meeting that a report assessing the town’s congestion hotspots was being prepared in a bid to get government funding for road schemes.

“We need hard facts to get hard cash,” she said.

“There is a lot more traffic on the roads since 2011 – a 6.5 per cent increase. Congestion hotspots include most junctions on the A35 and B3073 where the average speed of traffic is less than 10mph.”

She explained traffic issues in Christchurch included high car ownership, poor walking and cycling facilities, capacity issues on rail services, and poor links between the southeast of Christchurch and the rest of the county.

She said the council was requesting the government include the A35 and B3073 from Canford Bottom to Christchurch in the Major Road Network so the roads will be eligible for government investment.

But many residents were left frustrated that no significant schemes to improve congestion are in the pipeline.

Repeated calls for a relief road were made at the meeting, with residents asking about the likelihood of the proposals.

In 2016, an independent study was carried out which reconsidered four historic options for a relief road. However, only one option – costing £113m - was put forward for possible further investigation.

Councillor Colin Bungey said the longer the project was pushed back the more it ended up costing.

“Every business owner is saying they are suffering because of the road system in Christchurch,” he added.

One resident said: “Weymouth and Dorchester have both got relief roads. The Christchurch bypass is not serving its purpose as it dumps traffic in the middle of the town.”

Mrs Jackson said there were “many environmental and financial reasons the relief road is not being built”.