PORTLANDERS will have to wait another week for a decision to be reached on the new town council precept after a council meeting this evening was cancelled due to the weather.

It was called off at the last minute as town clerk Ian Looker, who lives off the island, was unable to get to the meeting because of the beach road closure. But there was criticism at why the meeting, which would have been on Tophill, away from flood-hit areas, was called off so late. The cancellation came at 2pm Wednesday after huge waves and high winds battered Chesil Cove.

The meeting had been called for councillors to continue budget discussions and consider a proposal to scrap all earlier decisions on the controversial council tax precept and start again.

At a fiery public meeting last week councillors were heckled and urged to resign for defending a council tax precept increase of 1,000 per cent for a Band D property.

Portland mayor Les Ames said this evening's meeting, which was due to take place at All Saints Church at Easton at 7pm, had been rearranged for Tuesday, February 11, at the same time and location.

Speaking outside the church tonight, he added: “I cannot apologise enough for cancelling the meeting at such short notice, but town clerk Ian Looker needed to be at the meeting and he was unable to attend because of the beach road closure.

“We must not hold any meetings without a proper clerk and I wanted to be here personally tonight to apologise to anyone who still made the time to come.

“We didn’t reach everybody with the cancellation news but we truly tried our best.

“Somebody has to look after the island and I believe with a properly organised town council we can help to fill the job.”

Weymouth and Portland Borough councillor David Hawkins blasted the decision to call the meeting off and called for town councillors to stand down until re-election next May.

He said: “Other arrangements could have been made with the clerk for the precept meeting.

“The original precept rise of 1,000 per cent currently still stands and time is running out to change that.”

Richard Paisley, a former Portland mayor, said: “If the people of Portland want to have a say on the precept they need to attend the next meeting. If not they can only blame themselves for not standing up for what they believe in.

“The only way to make this situation right is for people to do something.”