CALLS are being made to give Weymouth a boost amid a grim economic picture of low wages, high unemployment and poor prospects.

The area, although an attractive and popular holiday town, is in need of a helping hand and requires good jobs as well as inward investment.

A shake-up of the council system next year could be an opportunity to help Weymouth by locating new jobs here associated with the new Dorset authority.

Dorset County Councillors will be asked to get behind the borough at a meeting tomorrow following pleas from local members.

Reports have emerged over the past few months – and highlighted in a series of Echo articles – showing a borough blighted by crime, deprivation, ill health, low wages and under performing schools.

The borough’s shock ranking as one of the most “left behind” communities in the country was revealed in a Social Mobility Commission report which placed the area 322nd out of 324 local authority areas in England.

Council chiefs have previously said the borough faces complex challenges, but that they're working to make life better.

Now the issue will be raised at County Hall tomorrow as county councillor for Rodwell Clare Sutton makes a case at a meeting.

She will ask the Dorset County Council meeting to ensure that the maximum amount of support is given to the area and to locate more council posts in the borough following local government reorganisation (LGR) next April.

In a notice of motion she says: "I call upon this council to reaffirm its overall commitment to improving equality of opportunity within Dorset and recognise that the allocation of its resources can do much to assist this.

"I want the council to acknowledge that Weymouth and Portland faces particular challenges in the context of Dorset and, most specifically, in light of LGR and other developments, when deciding where to physically locate certain services going forward, especially where skilled jobs are involved, give special consideration to the fact that, if it is to thrive, Weymouth and Portland NEED these jobs."

Cllr Sutton told the Echo: "I've grown up in Weymouth, brought my kids up here and I want a brighter future for all our young people.

"Action is needed now to help this borough. This is a fantastic area but it needs investment and opportunities."

The motion from Cllr Sutton is seconded by fellow Green county councillor in Weymouth Jon Orrell.

Cllr Orrell said: "Austerity has caused massive cuts to public sector jobs. The magical thinking was that cuts would cause growth. They failed to do so and wages have stagnated.

"The same magical thinking believes 'public bad; private good'. This is false.

"In truth a job is a job and public sector expansion can lead to regeneration and prosperity.

"This motion calls on the new council to put new jobs where they are most needed."

Hopes for regeneration cash

PROBLEMS in Weymouth and Portland are linked to the fact that the area has a seasonal, low-pay economy with few large employers, and with several wards that are among the most deprived in the country.

Thousands of quality jobs were lost through defence cuts.

As a coastal area it is remote from a strong industrial base and with poor transport links – an issue raised at a Dorset LEP conference recently.

Last month, council chiefs wrote a joint letter outlining work going on to improve things locally.

This includes the vision of the Weymouth Town Centre Masterplan to attract more quality jobs and improve prosperity.

The borough council is hoping to secure money from a government coastal funding scheme to progress plans including the redevelopment of the Pavilion peninsula.

Last week, South Dorset MP Richard Drax made the case for much-needed regeneration cash for Weymouth in a plea to the government.

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

Mr Drax said afterwards: “ So often, we are neglected when it comes to funding. Weymouth needs and deserves a boost and I am determined to secure one.”