AN UNPOPULAR multi-million pound project to build a ramped pedestrian railway bridge at Wareham is continuing to move forward.

The joint venture between Dorset County Council and Network Rail was discussed at length at Wednesday's (4) cabinet meeting - with a number of residents from Wareham voicing their objections.

As reported in the Echo, the proposals to close the current pedestrian level crossing and replace it with ramps connecting with the existing footbridge have been met with uproar from the town - more than 2,000 people signed a petition in 2016 calling for the retention of the surface crossing.

Maxine Humphries, who lives on Sandford Road in Wareham, described the project as a "monstrosity that would impinge drastically on the street scene and character of the town".

She said: "It will not be democratic for this council to allow this proposal to be built. It will further divide the community of Wareham in half and will discourage residents from either walking or cycling into town."

Town councillor for Wareham, Malcolm Russell, asked the council to work together with the community of Wareham to come up with a more suitable solution.

"The residents of Wareham are no longer angry, there are absolutely incensed," he said.

Ralf Holmes, who also lives in Wareham, said: "Is there any public benefit at all in this scheme? The majority of Wareham think not - so where are the public that are going to benefit from this?" Mr Holmes added that the new crossing would increase traffic in the Wareham town centre.

A letter was also read by Cllr Mike Wiggins on behalf of Michael Tomlinson, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole. The letter said that Mr Tomlinson "shared the concerns" of the Wareham community. It read: "I urge the cabinet to keep these concerns at the forefront of their minds."

Concerns were also raised by members of the public about disabled people easily being able to use the ramp, along with parents with pushchairs and cyclists.

Cllr Mike Harries said the most recent response from Network Rail was "very clearly written". He said: "It reads that 'there is not alternative crossing option which Network Rail can or will support'.

Chairing the meeting, Cllr Rebecca Knox, said: "This is an extremely difficult position. We are here to represent the resident' comments but we are also here to insure that there is a safe public crossing in place."

Dorset County Council cabinet agreed to continue the process of application for planning consent for the proposed ramps. It will next be discussed at the regulatory committee - which is hoped to be held in Wareham, although a date has not yet been set.