THESE depressing photos reveal a forgotten seaside resort that has been allowed to ‘decay’ through years of neglect, it has been claimed.

The photos were taken this week as one resident made an impassioned plea to town chiefs to take action over the state of Weymouth town centre.

Boarded up shops, damaged walls, shabby buildings and vandalised advertising rotundas have left the resort in a ‘disgraceful’ state, said Bob Underwood.

And sand is banking up on the Esplanade and in town, blocking drains, he added.

It comes amid claims that one building is in such disrepair the retailer is moving out.

Mr Underwood told a meeting of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s management committee: “Poundland is closing down because the building is unsafe through disrepair.”

The retailer’s St Thomas Street store will close on February 25. A spokesman for the company said he did not have further information on why the store is closing, but added that the New Bond Street store will remain open.

A spokesman for the borough council said they do not own the building occupied by Poundland and declined to comment further.

Mr Underwood presented the pictures to the committee, with borough council leader Cllr Jeff Cant responding that he had ‘great empathy’ with the resident’s concerns.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Underwood said: “I think it’s about time I told it like it really is. How often do you walk around town and really look? It’s been allowed to decay around us and you are complacent about it happening.

“Frankly it’s a mess. The view of the high street is appalling. What encouragement is there for future investment and tourism in Weymouth? Where is the action plan?”

Councillors vowed to take action – but Cllr Cant warned that it is a complex problem and the council is not ‘omnipotent’.

He added: “I’m very sensitive to the way the town looks. It’s been allowed to gradually get run down over a long time. It is not an enhancement to tourism. But the council does not own all the buildings and we can’t force owners to improve them.”

Strategic director Martin Hamilton said the advertising rotundas were damaged again after being repaired once. He added that proposals are being drawn up to consider a town centre manager role, which would enable someone to identify problems and find solutions quickly.

Cllr Ray Nowak, as environment and sustainability briefholder, said the issue of sand in the town is ‘ridiculous’.

He added: “We can’t control everything that happens in the town but sand coming off the beach is damaging to traders and damaging to the perception of the place. It needs to be cleared away quickly.

“I’m pleased to say DWP is getting its act together financially. That’s good but we now need to put pressure on as to the quality of the service, and it’s that that has been dragging.”

Cllr Cant spoke of the need to also tackle ‘low level street disturbance’.

“That’s an issue we must address with the Melcombe Regis board. We must make Weymouth attractive for young families so it does not become a desert occupied by feral youths.”

Addressing Mr Underwood at the meeting, Cllr Cant added: “I think you will see a distinct drive on these issues to significantly improve the town over the next three to five years and we are determined to do that. I can assure you there’s a really strong will to try and do that.”

So what action is being taken to improve the state of the town?

  • Cllr Ray Nowak said he would speak to Dorset Waste Partnership to ensure sand is cleared away promptly after storms and high winds
  • Dorset Waste Partnership staff went out yesterday, the day after the meeting, to clear sand away on the seafront
  • Cllr Kevin Brookes asked the conservation officer to confirm what rules and regulations are in place to make owners keep buildings up to a good standard
  • Cllr Gill Taylor asked strategic director Martin Hamilton to ensure that the flower bed walls on the seafront are repaired by Easter
  • Cllr Christine James said she had already spoken to the Melcombe Regis Board as part of her work on the group to ensure they are regularly looking at the state of the town

With sweeping changes coming to local government in the next few years, it is unclear where responsibility will fall for taking care of the town. Weymouth and Portland Borough Council will cease to exist when a unitary authority comes into force, although plans are being pushed forward for a town council. It has not yet been decided what powers the town council will have.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Underwood said he was satisfied at the outcome of the meeting, but added that ‘seeing is believing’ when it comes to action being taken.

He added: “I think Weymouth is a lovely place. But it has got to be looked after.”

"State of town is a reflection of our community"

BUSINESS leaders have responded to the comments over the state of the town.

Vice-President of Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce Andrew Knowles said: "The state of our town centre is a reflection of how we feel about our community. The Chamber encourages businesses, community groups, the council and residents to find ways to working together to improve how Weymouth is presented. It's important to remember that empty shops are a problem across the UK, because so many of us now use online retailers. We probably have too many retail units and some of these could be converted to other use."

Nigel Reed, manager of Weymouth BID, added: “I think it’s good that people take pride in the town and we would encourage people to take responsibility for the parts they are responsible for. 

“We would like to work better with the Civic Society and landlords to do what can be done.”

  • Tell us what you think

Everyone who lives in Weymouth knows that it is a fantastic place to call home.

It is a beautiful town, albeit run down in places, and struggling like many seaside towns throughout the country.

We would love to hear from you, our readers, what you think could and should be done to improve our town.

We will pass on the comments to the council so they have a clear idea what you want and to also ensure that Weymouth does not get left behind with the move to unitary authorities.

Email us or write to The Editor, Fleet House, Hampshire Road, Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 9XD.