COUNCIL chiefs are hopeful Weymouth will be first in line for a share of £100 million government funding scheme to help revive the resort.

It comes ahead of a visit to the borough in June by senior civil servants from Whitehall.

They will be taking with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council representatives about development proposals, including the peninsula scheme on former ferry port land.

This is earmarked as a 'leisure zone' with proposals for a mixture of new indoor attractions, hotels and restaurants.

The public had their say on the proposals at a series of events last March.

Council leader Jeff Cant said minister Jake Berry was looking for good projects to benefit from the Coast and Community funding scheme.

At the management committee, Cllr Cant said: “He wants to choose a number of pilot councils and we could be first in the frame.

“He has agreed he will send down a bunch of civil servants in June to look at our plans which he said were very ambitious…he will come down a couple of months later and we’re hopeful he will make us an offer.”

Cllr Cant made the announcement after Cllr Lucy Hamilton said that a treasury management document which went before the council at the end of February allowed for the doubling of council borrowing. She said that it had been “tucked away” in the document.

She asked when councillors would get the chance to influence borrowing decisions: “How will decisions be made in an open and transparent way?

“This is the first year with no funding from central government. We need to be clear how we fund our ambitions for our town.”

Cllr Cant said the strategy referred to the possible need to borrow £30 million from the Treasury to finance the peninsula scheme.

“We reached our borrowing cap some years ago so we won’t be able to borrow more unless we can make a sound business case.”

He said he was hopeful that the borough would be able to persuade the government of the need for some borrowing on the basis that the scheme would be profitable.

MP makes case for regeneration cash in Parliament

SOUTH Dorset MP Richard Drax has made the case for much-needed regeneration cash for Weymouth in a plea to the government.

Yesterday Mr Drax asked treasury minister Robert Jenrick to confirm that the government is considering providing “desperately needed investment” for seaside towns.

Speaking during Treasury Questions on infrastructure investment for small and medium cities, Mr Drax said, “Cities are important, but so too are seaside towns such as Weymouth. We desperately need investment in those places.

“Having met a minister from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government recently, I understand that government is looking at initiatives for towns and seaside towns. Can the minister confirm that that is true? If so, what money will be available?”

Mr Jenrick replied: “The government’s strategy is not limited to cities. The Transforming Cities programme is for our smaller and larger cities, but we are also interested in coastal towns and communities. I recently met a number of parliamentary colleagues representing those communities, and I would be happy to meet my Hon. Friend to talk about how the treasury will be working with CLG.”

Mr Drax said afterwards: "I will be delighted to meet the minister. Having already met the Communities and Local Government minister with Matt Prosser, Chief Executive of the combined councils and Jeff Cant, leader of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, we are all keen to know what help may be available for Weymouth.

“It is good news that the Treasury’s infrastructure strategy will encompass seaside towns and communities. So often, we are neglected when it comes to funding. Weymouth needs and deserves a boost and I am determined to secure one.”