THE Christchurch Independents have said they will oppose any active travel scheme which would worsen traffic issues in the town, despite being part of BCP Council’s ruling coalition.

In a letter, members of the group, which holds most of the seats in Christchurch, said they “do not want and will oppose” any scheme which restricts any road.

It follows the backlash over schemes proposed across Bournemouth and Poole which opponents have described as “anti-car”.

BCP Council, which is controlled by a Lib Dem-led coalition, has put forward several measures under the government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund through which it has been allocated hundreds of thousands of pounds for projects which encourage alternative methods of transport.

But it has faced heavy criticism due to concerns it was discriminating against drivers and people unable to cycle or walk longer distances.

Opposition Conservative councillors have also hit out at a “lack of consultation” on the proposals and being “banned” from sharing information with members of the public.

Despite no detailed proposals for any scheme in Christchurch having yet been put forward, the town centre has been identified by the council for closures and “other possible measures” in the second phase of funding.

However, a letter signed by all six Christchurch Independent councillors, which includes cabinet members Lesley Dedman and Margaret Phipps, says they will oppose them.

“Christchurch already suffers from slow moving traffic and congestion at peak times,” it says. “To implement any schemes which widen cycle paths and take up road space or block off roads to vehicles, would severely restrict traffic flow and make things worse.

“While fully supporting active travel for those who wish to walk or cycle, we cannot support any restriction of the public highway for vehicular traffic.”

A council spokesman said the schemes put forward had all been ranked using criteria set by the government and would lead to "significant improvements" in infrastructure for sustainable travel across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

“The government instructed that the temporary measures needed to be implemented quickly and encouraged the use of experimental traffic regulation orders to meet the strict timescales set out,” they said.

“We are awaiting further government guidance on the delivery requirements for phase two and it is hoped that with longer timescales for delivery we can engage with local communities across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole up front, so that residents can shape and influence schemes within their local areas before they are implemented."

The council's £1.5 million bid for the second tranche of government funding was submitted last month and included £125,000 for active travel measures in Christchurch.

A cabinet report describes proposals for the "town centre area" as "point closures to create low traffic neighbourhoods" and

other possible measures to be confirmed via engagement".