COUNCIL leader Mike Goodman is facing calls to “apologise or resign”.
The Tory chairman of the borough council’s management committee sparked outrage when he labelled hoteliers ‘scruffy and miserable’.
Coun Goodman, who also said the council should be careful what they offered the group ‘by way of direct assistance’ has not apologised publicly for his comments.
He is believed to have phoned just one of the hoteliers concerned to apologise and when contacted by the Echo said the rest could ring him if they wanted to speak to him.
His email comments came after the group of hoteliers spoke to the Echo about poor hotel bookings over the Olympic period.
They said they are sill waiting for an apology and if one is not forthcoming Mr Goodman should resign.
And a former Conservative mayor has said Coun Goodman should pay with his position for his ‘unforgivable’ words.
Honorary Alderman Jess Nagel said: “I feel very strongly about upholding the standards of the council. And this has breached all of the conventional standards.
“A man in his position should know better. He should not stoop so low.
“He should not have involved himself in this. To discuss the hoteliers’ appearances and label them as ‘scruffy’ beggars belief.
“It is just unforgiveable that an elected member should so publicly make such scurrilous personal remarks about people.
“He also seems to forget that they pay hefty rents and business rates to the council and they have been subjected to more than their fair share of considerable disruption over the past two years.
“I agree that he should be considering his position as a leader of the council and resign.”
She added that although councillor Goodman said the hoteliers had given Weymouth bad publicity, he had done worse after his words were publicised nationally.
Hotelier Craig Wilson, of the Wilton Guesthouse, said: “It is really inappropriate for a man in his position to make comments like that. We are having a tough time, we’ve lost the ferry which is having an impact – it’s not our fault.
“It may have been a throwaway comment, but to say they should be careful what assistance they offer this particular group of hoteliers is utterly disgraceful.
“He should not be allowed to keep his position, he should resign.
“I think the relationship between the council and the hoteliers is broken to a degree and comments like this are unhelpful.
“I am pro-Olympics – I think they are going to be fantastic for the town. But there is a very ‘us’ and ‘them’ approach where the council is concerned, which has been exposed by this email – and it needs to change.”
Coun Goodman has so far apologised to only one of the hoteliers featured in the article.
Linda Mann, of the Redcliff Guesthouse, received an apology after she sent the council leader an email following the article outlining her disgust.
Coun Mike Goodman said: “If anyone wants to get in touch with me I will apologise and communicate with them like I did with Linda Mann. I do not want to conduct my business through the pages of the Echo.”
Council's plan of action
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has listed a number of ‘immediate actions’ it will take after hoteliers voiced their concerns.
Worried hoteliers spoke out after fears of losing thousands of pounds as visitors avoid the 2012 Games.
The council has now acknowledged that there is a general assumption that accommodation is already fully booked during the Olympics and has proposed a plan of action.
It includes additional promotion via the Visit Dorset website, radio interviews and Olympic-themed materials to give to guests and put on their websites It has listed a number of ‘actions for hoteliers to consider’ after carrying out a review of guesthouse websites.
In the review, it noted little reference to the area being an Olympic venue, no reference to the Weymouth Beach ‘Live Site’ and no highlighting of the regeneration that the borough has undergone in preparation for the Olympics.
It added that some websites contain no details of tariff making the prospect of online bookings ‘extremely limited’.
Paul Nash, of Seaspray Guest House, pictured below, said hoteliers on Brunswick terrace were pleased that a plan of action had been put in place.
He said: “Before the Echo contacted us there was no plan and now there is so it is a good thing.
“It is a positive move in the right direction which we can all benefit from.”
Dave Price, chairman of Weymouth and Portland Hoteliers and leaseholders association said: “What we would really want is some positive advertising which shows that Weymouth and Portland is open for business.”
Sue Leach, of Sunnyside Guest House said: “It is a step forward now that a plan is in place.”
Mark Brunt, of Brunswick Guest House said: “It is certainly a positive plan but we do need some more understanding from the council on how our businesses are run.”