Grid-lock in Dorchester

Grid-lock in Dorchester

Published by Maria Greenwood at 8:07am 14th June 2019.

There are calls for a parking review.

A call has been made to review parking across Dorchester.

It acknowledges that the county town, even before the summer season, is often grid-locked with many residential roads full by 8am on weekdays.

A return of the loss-making park and ride will be among the ideas to be put forward and some residents-only parking schemes may be reviewed to see if they can be changed to allow parking for shorter periods of the day, or even lifted altogether.

In other areas resident-only schemes could be introduced.

Herringston Road parking in Dorchester
Parking in Herringston Road in Dorchester

The problems have been exacerbated by more ‘no parking’ orders in and around the town lessening the spaces available – mainly in response to pleas from residents who are fed up at not being able to park near where they live.

In recent weeks restrictions have been brought in at Lubbecke Way, at a layby just outside the town on New Road, around several junctions including the entrance to Manor Park school and prior to that at some junctions in Victoria Park. There are currently calls for resident-only parking areas around Fordington Green and in some roads on Manor park.

And as restrictions have tightened drivers are becoming more inventive in their choices of spots to park – a town centre building which has been empty for more than a year daily has its car park filled with those taking a chance; on the industrial estate drivers daily park on verges; on Damers Road the grass bank has become a regular parking spot for many and even roads in Poundbury, closest to the town centre, are becoming filled up with the cars of town centre workers, despite the 15-20 minute walk on into Dorchester. The medical practice in St Johns Way last year had to appeal to drivers not to park all day outside the surgery because patients who needed to get there for treatment by car were unable to do so.

Almost daily Coburg Road, outside the Middle School, grinds to a halt at peak times, especially when raining, while sports centre users further up the road struggle to find space in the centre’s car parks because they are full with vehicles left all day.

Northernhay parking in Dorchester
Parking in Northernhay, Dorchester

Independent Dorchester councillor Les Fry says a review which the former county council started should now be looked at again with renewed vigour – with all options on the table to create a joined up travel plan for the county town.

“If we are sensible about this we could solve a lot of the town’s problems at the same time – through traffic, pollution, cycling and parking…but we will need to have a joined up approach,” said Mr Fry.

“I would like to see the park and ride brought back, if we can provide a decent, safe place to park where people can get into town easily – but it has to be affordable, we cannot run a service which will lose money.”

Mayor Richard Biggs, who also represents Poundbury on the Dorset Council, says a review of parking is long overdue.

“It had been suggested in the past that there should be a blanket residents only parking scheme covering a large section of the town but I think we would need to reflect on how popular that would be,” he said.

Mr Biggs said a residents meeting this week revealed how drivers were now parking in Poundbury and catching the bus into town – effectively having their own park and ride, something which he said was likely to continue because of the lack of parking restrictions on Poundbury.

He said more thought out to be given to how planning could help – pointing out that many garages were too small for modern car and some courtyard areas on Poundbury were difficult to access, leading to car owners parking on the streets.

“We also need to consider, in the review, whether the town has adequate public transport and look at issues such as why the rail line between Weymouth and Dorchester is under-used for people travelling to work,” he said.

Parking at Northernhay, Dorchester
Parking at Northernhay, Dorchester

Councillor Molly Rennie has asked for urgent consideration to be given to Herringston Road outside the hospice and private Winterbourne Hospital: “ When either has events on, or are particularly busy, the road outside can become grid-locked…recently when the bypass was closed and people were seeking a way around it came to a complete standstill,” she said.

Another Dorchester councillor, Janet Hewitt, says she too will press for a review after witnessing, daily, Clarence Road and Maud Road, close to where she lives, turned into a single-lane because of parked cars left there by town centre workers: ”People now call the area Victoria car park, not Victoria Park,” she said.

“If we had to get a fire engine down Clarence Road I dread to think what would happen and some of the other routes are worse. While I was canvassing I came across people, some of them with disabilities, who if they leave their space in places like Windsor Road, can’t find anywhere else to park until the end of the day.”

She says the county hospital has not helped with its charging policy for staff which has forced many to find free parking in nearby streets.

“I have tried for two years to get parking only on one side of Clarence Road but nobody is listening…the sad thing is I suspect they won’t listen until a child is knocked over.”

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter