BACKING has been given for a £11.4million finance deal to take Weymouth's Peninsula development to the next level.

The proposals met with a hostile public reaction at Thursday night's full borough council meeting with claims that the council had taken little notice of the public consultation and were too secretive.

Hoteliers said they worried their businesses would suffer because of the scheme along with restaurants and bars in the town centre.

The proposal includes a mid-range hotel on the site and a bar/restaurant with rooms.

Many at the packed meeting, which lasted for almost four hours, complained about the lack of a major all-weather family attraction in the first phase. There was also criticism of consultant reports and the council for believing them.

Among the demands were that the council hand the site over to a community land trust and let local people decide what should go ahead on the harbour-mouth site.

But in the end a majority vote gave backing to seek the finance for the next phase of the project – although that decision will still need to get the approval of the shadow Dorset Council executive.

The new council was said to be a threat to the development with a warning that if the borough did not get on with the scheme the site would be taken over by the Dorset Council when it comes into being next April, potentially selling it to the highest bidder, even if that meant building high-rise apartments and nothing else.

Borough council leader Jeff Cant said that by retaining control of the scheme and not having to go out to tender it would secure an income stream for the town to pay for future improvements to Weymouth Harbour.

The meeting heard a denial that the scheme would lead to a loss of more than 200 car parking spaces. Strategic director Martin Hamilton said that once the former ferry terminal buildings were demolished there would be more parking spaces than at present – and future additions could include a two-tier car park.

“The vision should be one which is shared by the community and not opposed by it. This may leave us with a legacy of debt,” said Jane Ayres from the hoteliers association. She said members strongly opposed the proposals, did not believe it had any strong merits and would only add to their difficulties, especially outside of the main season.

Weymouth Pavilion director Phil Say claimed the council was spending more on consultants than it did on the Pavillion: “Don't spend so much on consultants from outside the area. We're bored of that. Listen to local people and be imaginative,” he said.

Jason West from Weyforward said the group's planning consultant claimed that the council proposals were not financially sound.

“You can leave a real legacy to this town's people – you can instruct council officers and your lawyers to make it a present to the people of Weymouth,” he said, suggesting that the site could be owned by a community land trust which would then develop its own plans, together with a private developer, if that was appropriate.

He criticised the council's lack of transparency and failure to present any financial figures: “There's a complete absence of any real information and that's total unacceptable,” he said.

Council leader Jeff Cant said the area had been semi derelict for too long: “The site has been a slab of concrete for too many years. We want people to look to us and say 'Weymouth is going somewhere''s about regeneration and controlling it within the's a legacy scheme,” he said.

Cllr Tia Roos said she had a bad feeling about what she described as an 'uninspiring' proposal: “It's messy, it's confusing and I can't support it when the community can't support it,” she said.

Another 'no' voter, Cllr Christine James, said she felt 'let down' by the proposals which offered nothing to attract families in poor weather.

“Why on earth are we not listening to the public.? I'm sorry but I just don't believe the public consultation report.

“A lot of people know a lot more than needs to be community led and work for everybody,” she said.

Cllr Ray Nowak (pic) agreed the development was “a bit dull” but said that could be improved: “We've had workshops and we've had consultations and we've listened.

“You can talk and talk and talk but sometimes you have got to make decisions.”