West Dorset's MP is at the forefront of calls for a “joined up” approach to improve an accident blackspot on the A35 trunk road near Bridport.
Oliver Letwin chaired a public meeting at Bridport Town Hall to air issues surrounding the Miles Cross junction at Symondsbury which links West Road out of the town with the main route to the west country.
Excessive speed and drivers' confusion were highlighted as major problems by about 40 members of the public, local residents and councillors from neighbouring parishes, West Dorset District Council and Dorset County, in front of Highways Agency representatives.
They heard the junction has a history of fatal and serious collisions since the A35 ring road skirting the town was opened 25 years ago.
Bridport town councillors have already demanded that a roundabout should be installed, but plans to site a new traffic light junction half a mile along the road for the proposed waste management centre at Broomhills and the possibility of a 750-plus home development at nearby Vearse Farm have reignited the debate over the best solution.
Andy Roberts, asset manager for the Highways Agency in Dorset said that safety was continually monitored, but that the statistics at Miles Cross since 2003 of one fatality, five serious and eight slight injury accidents did not make the junction a “cluster site” which would qualify for higher priority measures from the Agency.
He added that a roundabout, which could cost £2m at a “challenging “ site, would not be a solution to all the problems.
The meeting was told that money from the developers at Vearse Farm could amount to millions of pounds, some of which could go towards improving access and a revised junction.
Urging the authorities to have a rethink about the Broomhills waste site, David Wragg of Symondsbury Parish Council said that in previous years it had been decided that a roundabout could not be justified financially.
“But that does not alter the fact that we have a risk factor on this road from the Crown roundabout to the Chideock boundary.
“Broomhills is a most unsafe solution and it will just move the problem right down to the gates there.
“Let's have some joined-up thinking please.”
Mr Letwin said that the meeting had shown that the situation had both increased threats and opportunities.
“At the moment it seems there are several parallel tracks, without any particular joining up.
“There is a clear issue about speed and enforcement, but the bigger ticket issue is how to think of this whole scenario. For that I think we should all get together to work on an overall plan.”
Suggesting a meeting of all parties concerned and a working group to look at the issue, Mr Letwin also pledged to push for a road sign which obscures drivers' views of traffic coming from Eype to be moved as soon as possible.
Bridport councillor David Tett, who was instrumental in setting up the meeting said afterwards: “It was a very constructive debate with many different and varying ideas and views for tackling this long ongoing problem at Miles Cross.
“While the ultimate solution may be some time in the making, the immediate concern over the confusion that exists when entering onto and leaving the A35 might well be addressed.”