WEYMOUTH and Portland’s largest council group will take a ‘fresh look’ at the Condor Ferries saga and re-examine whether the island can be a base for some authority workers.
The Labour group, which now dominates Weymouth and Portland Borough Council after success in last week’s elections, has promised ‘radical change’ to make the borough thrive again.
New group leader Mike Byatt, who will soon take his seat as chairman of the management committee and effectively become leader of the council, was being guarded on what exactly those changes will be.
But he said the ‘strategic priorities’ included the harbour, negotiations with Condor Ferries, the development of North Quay council offices and a town centre masterplan.
Portland should be investigated further to see if it can offer suitable accommodation for council staff transferring out of North Quay, Cllr Byatt said.
Condor Ferries’ future in Weymouth is uncertain because of new infrastructure demands to accommodate a super-ferry. It will cost the council about £10m to refurbish a suitable berth.
A meeting between council chiefs and a government minister last week failed to secure funding.
Cllr Byatt said: “We need to come to a conclusion on the best way forward.
“We need to have a fresh look at it.
“The Labour group needs to be clear what the options are. There are issues about securing finances and what Condor’s needs are.
“It’s in everyone’s interest to get the best possible outcome and I’m not going to make any presumptions.
“I’m open minded as to what the best solution is.”
Cllr Byatt also said it was vital to attract investment into the town centre to boost the retail sector.
He added: “We need to come up with a deliverable plan. We should look at lessons learnt elsewhere and think about what kind of shape the town needs to be in.”
Regarding the council’s relocation from North Quay, Cllr Byatt said the group were concerned about the loss of jobs from the borough.
Many council staff look set to transfer to Dorchester while others will go to offices at Chickerell and a handful will stay in the town centre.
Cllr Byatt said the group weren’t looking to reverse those decisions but he said there should be a further review to see if any council-owned sites on Portland can offer anything.
Labour gained three seats and defended a further two in the elections, making it the largest party on the council with 15 seats, ahead of the Conservatives with 11 seats.