JUST 40 people used the council's park and ride last weekend, despite the introduction of an additional service running from Poole for the first time.

The weather has been outlined as a key factor for the dwindling number of passengers by both Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council and the opposition leader, Vikki Slade.

Figures show that 25 passengers used the park and ride on Saturday, July 24 and just 15 passengers used the service on Sunday, July 25.

Services, run by Morebus, operate from the Civic Centre to Sandbanks and from Kings Park to Boscombe Pier every 15 minutes.

Read more: New park and ride opening this weekend in Poole

A spokesperson for the council said: “The park and ride has been shown to be very useful on the busiest days when beach car parks are most congested. On the weekend of the July 17 and 18, over 1200 used the Kings Park service. We now have the Sandbanks Park & Ride also operating daily so will be able to direct visitors to this facility via our roadside Variable Message signs and social media when our Pavilion car park becomes full.

“We are also operating an innovative Park and Cycle scheme from Kings Park with Beryl from August 1, to offer a further fun and sustainable transport option."

A yellow weather warning for storms and heavy rainfall was issued by the Met Office for the whole of the south of England from last Thursday, July 22 until Monday, July 26 - scuppering many people's plans to lounge on the beach.

Ex-council leader Vikki Slade said: "If the numbers were low and it had been great weather I'd have been concerned.

"I was disappointed they didn't bring Poole in when they opened Bournemouth - they're only running it in the summer holidays and Sandbanks attracts people all-year-round.

"I think we should have introduced the two services at the same time so we could really see what the impact was going to be. If the park and ride had been opened for those [busy] weekends we wouldn't have had to close Sandbanks and that is not a good advert for the town.

"I think that was a mistake and a missed opportunity and I think it had the risk of back-firing and sending a negative message about Poole which is a real shame.

"Fingers crossed we'll have a really good summer and we will be able to see how much impact it will have a whether it's successful - I hope it is."