ASHBOURNE'S crippling traffic woes have been likened to a "plague" by the people fighting to find ways to improve the town's environment in the future.
Among the hundreds of people who responded to a survey by the Ashbourne Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, nearly everyone agreed that the volume of heavy goods vehicles needs to be reduced.
Members have calculated that one lorry comes through the town every 70 seconds and one car passes by every seven seconds – and this has led to a rallying call for help in formulating a traffic management policy for Ashbourne.
Chairman of the steering group Jeffrey Phillips said: "Ashbourne has a plague.
"We are not talking about a swarm of locusts, although it might feel like it sometimes. More of an everyday blight, which strikes frustration into the heart, soul and blood pressure of all Ashburnians.
"We are talking about getting from A to B, getting to appointments on time, visitors in summer getting through the town centre in under 40 minutes and then being able to park.
"Why visit Ashbourne if you are going to spend forever in your car?
"We are talking about the problems we have with traffic and parking, about the urgent need in a visitor-driven town like Ashbourne to welcome the pedestrian, to give the pedestrian priority and not be treated as a second-class user.
"The neighbourhood plan team has had an overwhelming response that traffic in Ashbourne is, quite frankly, appalling. And if it is bad now, imagine what it will be like in five years when all the proposed developments are on stream.
"With no bypass on the horizon – not for the next 20 years at least – we need to take immediate action."
The group is calling on the people of Ashbourne for help to devise effective "traffic management policies" which will put pressure on planners to take issues such as traffic and parking into account when considering developments.
The neighbourhood organisation now wants people to offer ideas and proposals that could help Ashbourne, so that they can be pushed forward as part of a wider action plan.
Mr Phillips said: "At the next meeting, come armed with your ideas and solutions, determined to improve the management of Ashbourne's road network and to address the pedestrian visitor flow with priority over and separated from traffic flows.
"This is a unique period for the community to work tog-ether to provide answers – to get away from the plagues and into the promised land."
The group is due to meet next month, but a date has not yet been announced.
To find out more information, visit www.ashbourne plan.org.