THE privatisation of part of Weymouth beachfront is the topic of a consultation process launched today.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is inviting local people and organisations to have their say on the future of the Greenhill Chalets and other leisure facilities.

The proposal to sell off the area around the gardens to save the council money has provoked outrage. The gardens have been described as the 'jewel of the seafront'.

Chalet owners fear a new owner will hike up rents and are concerned about the loss of open space from potential new development.

The council agreed in November to begin the process of selling the Greenhill Gardens chalets, Esplanade chalets, Greenhill Play Gardens and chalets, as well as Pebbles cafe, tennis courts, putting green and public toilets. It would be done by way of a formal tender for a 125 year lease.

The decision was later questioned amid concerns procedures hadn't been followed.

The management committee agreed in January agreed to consult on proposals and the council says people have between now and noon on May 9 to submit comments.

There will also be a chance to talk to the council's property team about it at drop-in sessions at the Mulberry Centre on Thursday, April 3 from 3pm-7pm and Friday, April 4 from noon-4pm.

Chairman of the Chalet Users Community Group Sue Bray said she was pleased the council was consulting but said this should have been done when plans were first announced.

She also expressed surprise that the chalet group had not been contacted directly by the council before today's announcement on the consultation process.

Mrs Bray added: “We hope they will take our views on board otherwise this process is going to be a waste of time and money.”

She said the drop-in sessions should be spread over a few more days and include a weekend.

Council finance spokesman Peter Chapman said: “We realise that the Greenhill Chalets and associated facilities are a popular asset.

“We believe a new operator will be able to maintain and improve the Greenhill Chalets and associated facilities to a better standard than the council can afford to. The proposals are aimed at securing the long term future of the chalets and preserving the public amenities and access to the associated facilities.”

He added: “Anyone interested in the site is welcome to come and see the proposals at the drop-ins and also submit their comments.

“Consultation findings will inform our decision when Management Committee comes to look at this in the summer.”

To comment request a copy of the consultation from 01305 252356 or visit Copies of the consultation and proposals will also be available at the drop-in sessions.