BOURNEMOUTH and Poole's well-documented traffic problems could soon be discussed as part of a 'congestion conference'.

Representatives from councils, businesses and other organisations are likely to be invited to attend the event, which will be held with the aim of providing long-term solutions for the conurbation's road issues.

As reported in the Daily Echo earlier this month, Bournemouth and Poole are now the most congested towns in the UK - a problem which has apparently cost the local economy £121 million.

The figures put the conurbation and some surrounding, smaller towns sixth nationally for traffic delays, behind London, Manchester, Birmingham, Luton and Edinburgh, but ahead of Newcastle, Coventry and Liverpool.

Ian Girling, chief executive of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said there is "no easy win" for the issue.

"I’m unable to make comment on the specific numbers in the report without clear information on the methodology, but it has to be acknowledged travel times and congestion across the conurbation are huge issues for all," he said.

"Roadworks, while necessary, also add to the frustration of drivers. There is no easy win in dealing with this problem.

"There needs to be a clear strategy in place for the whole conurbation that takes in to account peak traffic flows and actions that can be undertaken to ease them, traffic control systems, public transport and alternative forms of transport.

"We also need to encourage businesses to look at solutions such as flexible working and working from home."

Mr Girling said new approaches are due to be discussed via a new forum.

"The issue of congestion recently came up at a Dorset Chamber meeting with Bournemouth Borough Council, and there is a desire to work together to discuss a longer term strategic approach to the problem," he said.

The figures were disputed by Ian Kalra, Bournemouth council's head of transportation services, who questioned how the location had been defined.

Mr Kalra said such reports "provide a very polarised view of traffic movement".

Both he and Martin Baker, senior road safety engineer for Poole council, highlighted work taking place to alleviate traffic congestion.