MILLIONS of pounds have been given to seaside towns to kick-start jobs and apprenticeships – but Dorset will not get a penny.

Awards from the latest round of the Coastal Communities Fund – £36m in total – will support projects that will create nearly 3,000 jobs and almost 1,500 apprenticeships and training places.

But Dorset County Council did not submit any bids for the funding. It said it felt there were no ‘appropriate schemes’ to put forward for the fund after discussing potential bids with its partner organisations. Local tourism and business experts say they are ‘disappointed’ with this answer.

David Walsh, Dorset County Council’s economic development manager, said: “When funding opportunities arise from time to time, the county council – along with its partners – considers if there are any schemes or initiatives which fit the specific criteria, and which warrant a detailed funding bid. The council has successfully worked to secure funding from the Coastal Communities Fund in the past, but on this occasion it was considered there were no appropriate schemes to put forward.”

The Coastal Communities Fund is a government scheme managed in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund. South west organisations to benefit from grants include Tate St Ives which gets £3.8million to help extend its art gallery; Torbay Economic Development Company which receives £1.6million to support an Electronics and Photonics Innovation Centre; £1.3million cycle and walking path project between Dawlish and the Exe Estuary trail.

Elsewhere, the Blackpool illuminations secured £2million.

Mickey Jones, chief executive of Granby and Link Park developer DJ Property, said the council has a ‘responsibility’ to help make businesses aware of, and secure, available funding.

He said often business people find it difficult to find the time to wade through various legislation and criteria to apply for funding.

“Local authorities can do a big favour to businesses by helping facilitate some of this,” he added.

Although last week the government announced funding for the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal, which will hopefully create 26,000 jobs across the county and support projects like MEMO on Portland and Kingston Maurward College, those in West Dorset say they’ve missed out again.

Chairman of Lyme Regis Business Group, Tony Colston, said he is ‘disappointed’.

“Areas like West Dorset would particularly benefit from getting access to these funds,” he said.

“It sometimes feels like government doesn’t feel we need supporting as a county, but the reality is in certain areas that isn’t the case.”

Dorset County’s Council’s spokesman for the economy, Cllr Peter Finney, said: “It’s obviously disappointing when we don’t get funding, but I would say we live to fight another day.

'Difficulty meeting demands'

TIM Hunt, chairman of Bridport’s Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “We do experience difficulty meeting the demands of producing appropriate [project] business plans with limited access to our member experts.

“But we have been very successful in raising our concerns with the district and county councils about the need to provide us with access to bid writing services and project delivery funds in order to gain a sufficient amount of government funding.”

Despite not applying for support in the latest round, the council has received government funding through the recently announced Growth Deal to help progress its town masterplan.