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UPDATE: Backlash after Weymouth described as 'wasteland': What do you think?
Updated 6:48pm Monday 23rd June 2014 in News
A HUGE debate has been caused by an article calling Weymouth a 'graveyard of ambition.'
It says that 'beyond the beach, Weymouth is a place beset by low wages, lack of transport, isolation and poverty of aspiration.'
The words, published in the Observer, have divided the town, with some calling it 'nonsense' and others saying the area needs to face up to reality.
Article author Tracy McVeigh, who has received hate mail since publication, said the purpose of the article was not 'picking on Weymouth' but to prompt action for young people in the town and other coastal resorts.
She told the Echo: “Inner-city kids are doing better than kids in lovely coastal towns; that's something everybody needs to take on board.
“They are the generation that is going to keep the town going.
“We have to get behind young people and help them.”
Although McVeigh said the level of hate mail was unnecessary, she said she is glad the article had caused a debate.
It was prompted by chief inspector of schools Sir Michael Wilshaw's comments that 'aspiration and achievement was now a major issue in seaside towns.'
McVeigh added: “Weymouth is a lovely place to visit and I am sure that is not affected (by the article) but there are people having a really hard time.
“It's nice that people care enough about the town to comment.
“The whole point of Sir Michael Wilshaw's comment on coastal towns was to start a debate- and it's exactly the sort of debate people should be having.
“Young people are having a really tough time. The public transport situation makes life incredibly difficult.”
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has waded in to defend the town.
Cllr Mike Byatt, brief holder for Corporate Affairs and Continuous Improvement, said: “Increasing economic prosperity and growth in Weymouth is a top priority for the borough council.”
He added that 'inward investment opportunities', superfast broadband and reduced parking prices are making the town more attractive and the borough will host more than 260 events this year.
He said: “We appreciate there are a number of challenges ahead, but these challenges are not just unique to Weymouth.
“The town is in a much better position than many other high streets and seaside towns across the country, and we must seek to make the best use of what we have to offer such as the beach, harbour and stunning Jurassic Coast.
“We continue to work alongside our partners and key stakeholders in Weymouth such as the Weymouth BID, Chamber of Commerce, Local Enterprise Partnership, Weymouth College and Dorset County Council and many others to achieve this ambition.
“We are confident that a strategic approach will help secure a prosperous, enjoyable town that is a great place to live and work for all our residents, businesses and visitors.”
RESIDENTS have taken to social media to air their views.
Joe Hunt said 'a small portion' of the article 'rings true BUT massively overlooks everything it has got going for it.'
Laura Culshaw said: “Weymouth is a buzzing hub of enterprise when you look closely but that article has barely scratched the surface! Very one-sided.
But others have agreed with aspects of what was written, with cllr Dan Brember saying: “Don't agree that Weymouth is a "graveyard of ambition" but, almost without exception, ambitions involve getting out.”
He added later: “It's no easy reading, and is narrow in scope, but it's not inaccurate.
“Before May, we spoke to thousands of Weymouth residents and, overwhelmingly, that was what we heard on the doorstep from Portland to Littlemoor “Really encouraging to see business is on the up but that isn't being felt by the majority of residents.”
One former resident wrote on the Echo website: “I'm glad that article has been written. Last year my family had the opportunity to move and people asked us why, and the story we tell is the same as the article. We have two children and faced with the reality of no work for them moving was a good option. As it has turned out we are so glad we moved and often comment on we wish we had done it years ago. Where we live now does not have the amazing beauty of the scenery of the coast line but has so much more to offer.”
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