THE massive rebuild of the A338 Spur Road will now miss its September start date and the future of the whole project has been left in limbo.

Dorset County Council missed out on £23.4 million in government funding in March and has just said it cannot wait for news any longer.

The cancellation puts the seven-month long project into doubt until definitive funding arrangements can be made.

The county council revealed the work had been cancelled after being pushed by Bournemouth’s Chamber of Trade for news.

The council said: “There is now insufficient time to carry out the works in September as previously planned, but Dorset County Council is currently looking at options to complete the scheme at a later date.”

Around £1m has already been spent on preparatory work including controversial road closures and the clearance of grass verges to protect rare lizards and clean the drains.

The county council must now keep lobbying in the hope it receives the money in the future, or try and fund the work with loans and by applying for smaller grants.

The council wants to do the work as soon as possible because the road, the busiest in Dorset, is in such a poor state and running repairs cost £1m a year.

Andy Ackerman, Dorset’s head of highways, said it was 99 per cent certain the work would miss the September date unless an announcement was made very soon after the election.

He said September 2011 would be a suitable start date but it was not the only one that could be used. “I am still confident we have a very good chance of getting the money,” said Mr Ackerman.

Colehill councillor Janet Dover said: “I certainly wouldn’t want them to borrow money for this work.

“There are other projects that need the money, like schools and other roads in Dorset that are in an horrendous state.

“I am surprised they didn’t ensure the funding was in place before the start of the work. The whole project needs to be looked at again.”

Mr Ackerman said it would have been “unwise” not to carry out the preparatory work on the verges and ditches because the road was suffering from flooding.

Government funding for transport schemes in the south west has reportedly been cut by 50 per cent.

Mr Ackerman said: “We know there’s a large deficit the government needs to deal with after the election and certainly one of the risks is transport funding.

“That doesn’t give me added confidence at this stage but we are not privy to what the next government is going to do.”

Peter Matthews, the boss of Castlepoint, has been pressing for news and he said: “It’s good that we know, because now we can prepare properly for Christmas trading.”

He added: “There have been a number of deaths and serious accidents on that road so I think there’s a sense of urgency to get the work done.”