HIGHWAYS chiefs have been blasted for hitting both Bournemouth and Poole with major roadworks in the crucial pre-Christmas shopping season.

Tony Brown, chief executive of Beales, is furious at the possible impact on both town centres.

Nine months of roadworks on the A338 Spur Road restart on Monday next week, although they will pause between December 10 and January 7. Meanwhile, roadworks at Poole’s busy Hunger Hill roundabout are to start on October 8 – and will also last nine months.

Mr Brown is angry at both borough councils and Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which is behind both schemes.

“I think Dorset LEP and the councils need a wake-up call,” he said. “You’ve got two lots of work that significantly impact two critical shopping centres in the conurbation, both being affected by decisions by the LEP.”

He said both sets of roadworks would hamper access to the town centres at crucial times.

“They’re warning people that there’s going to be major disruption and to seek alternative modes of transport, plan your journey so you don’t hit peak times etc, but they’re starting in October. It’s bizarre,” he said.

At the start of the A338 scheme, Beales in Bournemouth saw meetings and supplies disrupted and staff late for work.

He said the decision to pause the A338 construction from December 10 was not enough to help town centre retailers. “People start shopping for Christmas straight after the half term in October,” he said.

Larry Austin, Bournemouth council's service director for environment, said the clash "certainly has been considered".

"There is always an issue of funding for road schemes," he said. "There are always funding windows and times when work needs to be undertaken to secure that funding in the first place.

"We do appreciate there may be an impact when these schemes start."

At a media briefing yesterday Mr Austin and Mike Read, the project lead from Dorset County Council, said the A338 work had been scheduled so as to be completed "as quickly as possible".

They predict queues up to 8km long resulting from the work, but have set the lane closures up to affect traffic heading southbound to prevent queues building up back into Bournemouth town centre.

"It will help if wherever possible people can adjust their travel plans, particularly at the peak hours," said Mr Austin. "Outside peak hours there is very, very little delay at all.

"We fully appreciate that not everybody will be able to do that but where people can it will make a big difference."

They said the work was complex as it required major alterations to the two bridges by which the A338 crosses the River Stour, both of which have different designs. They said traffic flows at peak times were not dramatically different in either direction, making a contraflow futile.

Also, they said the volume of traffic on the A338 is expected to grow by 20 per cent over the next 12 years, bringing Blackwater to a standstill.