Vision, creativity and daring to be different are what's needed to breath new life into Weymouth and Portland.

The comments come in response to a high profile report into how seaside towns, which are 'being left behind,' can be regenerated.

Weymouth and Portland has been highlighted in the report, published by the House of Lords select committee, as an area in need of improvements to education, housing, digital infrastructure and transport.

It states that, by making such improvements, seaside towns can 'reinvent themselves with a long-term, place-based vision' and can 'once again become prosperous.'

The Echo has previously reported how Weymouth and Portland had the lowest average weekly wages in the country.

The findings of the report come as 'no great surprise', says Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce president, Craig Oakes.

Mr Oakes said: “Over previous years, regeneration of Weymouth and Portland has been the hot topic on everyone’s lips, particularly notwithstanding the redevelopment of the peninsula.

“We have just secured a large amount of funding from the Coastal Communities Fund. What amazes me is the hoops that you have to jump through to obtain the money on offer when the Lords know there is an issue. It should just be allocated now.”

Jason West of Weyprogress, a community action group, said for the town to benefit its people need to be listened to.

He explained: “Too often our politicians and council officers take what, to them, seems the safe option, but in reality it is the riskiest because it is too safe, boring and ill-conceived to make the impact necessary to rebuild local confidence and energy levels.

“Vision, creativity and daring to be different are the qualities that transform places and the lives of people who live there. Weymouth and Dorset councillors (when elected in May) need to seek out and support local people with the energy and ideas to make good things happen. They need to look beyond their own experiences and immediate professional and social circles.”

'People are not sitting on their hands' says MP

South Dorset MP Richard Drax says 'people are not sitting on their hands' and a lot of work is being done to improve the town.

He highlighted work to improve rail links on the Salisbury line and at Yeovil Junction to get faster trains to Weymouth.

Mr Drax said: "What the House of Lords indicated is what we have all been trying to achieve in Weymouth and Portland.

"We are working hard to get a faster train through Yeovil and are looking at building a Western Relief Road and improving Weymouth Railway Station."

"We are also looking at getting more money through various applications. We have been successful in our bid for Coastal Communities Funding, which is great news for the area.

"I have also helped to start a board which is being run by Bill Reeves chief executive of Portland Port and is doing great things. The idea is to produce a business plan to improve prosperity and job opportunities.

"There is a lot of work going on, and a lot of effort going into injecting more money into Weymouth and Portland. People aren't sitting on their hands.

"But it's like I have been saying for nine years, there are lots of people in their own silos doing great work but we need to work more closely together. We need a business plan and an aim of where we want to go and execute that aim in the best way we can. I'm starting to get the feeling there is much more cohesion, it's happening but these things don't happen overnight."

He said Weymouth and Portland is in a similar situation as Bournemouth a few years ago, when it needed to decide what it wanted for its future; whether it remained a family-friendly 'bucket and spade town' or an up-and-coming town for young people.

BID says report presents a 'more thorough understanding' of problems

It had been hoped 2019 would be a pivotal year for Weymouth, with changes to the seafront lights, North Quay and the Pavilion peninsula.

Claudia Moore, chief operations officer of Weymouth BID, said the report presented a ‘more thorough understanding’ of the challenges facing coastal communities, adding: "The launch of the Future High Streets Fund, our town's recent grant success and the development of local strategies are well-timed to help these opportunities to be realised.”

Lord Bassam of Brighton, chairman of the Select Committee, said seaside towns have been neglected "for too long", and suffer from issues rooted in the decline of their core industries such as domestic tourism, fishing, shipbuilding and port activity.

He added: "The potential impact of Brexit on these towns, particularly the hospitality sector, also remains an open question.

"A single solution to their economic and social challenges doesn't exist. What is needed is a package of strategic initiatives and interventions where national and local government work together to address issues such as transport, housing, post-school education and high-speed broadband.

"Places like Brighton and Bournemouth have shown that 'the seaside' can successfully reinvent itself.

"The committee is confident that if our recommendations are pursued, seaside towns can once again become prosperous and desirable places to live in and visit."

Solution - a 'joined-up approach' says council chief

Dorset Council is calling for a joined-up approach to help regenerate Weymouth and Portland.

John Sellgren, executive director for Place at Dorset Council, said: “Any solution for these issues needs a joined-up approach with communities, health, housing organisations, the Dorset Local Enterprise partnership (LEP), the town council and Dorset Council all working together.

“We recognise that the causes of inequality are multiple and complex and can’t be tackled by the council alone, which is why we are committed to working with other organisations for the benefit of all our residents and businesses.”

He highlighted the work of the Melcombe Regis Board to tackle inequalities by bringing agencies together, for example through the introduction of uniformed patrol officers and plans to improve housing by considering licensing for landlords.

He added: “Weymouth and Portland has a high level of people in temporary, low cost rented housing. The standard of accommodation has impacts on many aspects of residents’ lives including health and education.”

Discussing improving health in the area, he said: “Health services play an important part. By changing ways of working health organisations can attract and retain staff. And by offering a range of services to residents that, over time, improve the health of the community.”

Meanwhile he remained confident the area has a bright economic future.

Dorset Echo:

He said: “The economy within seaside towns is often reliant on seasonal tourism. Across Dorset, attention is being focused on other sectors to increase productivity, skills and wage levels. Industries such as engineering, manufacturing, financial services, insurance, agri-tech and creative industries provide high value jobs.

“£3.79 million has been secured for the Weymouth Quay Regeneration Project, which will transform the area and deliver a centre of excellence for enterprise.

“We have the World Heritage Jurassic Coast on our doorstep. And a blue flag beach, with excellent bathing quality water, which is now set off beautifully following seafront regeneration work.

“Over the past few years a number of successful films and TV series have used Dorset’s seaside towns. Dunkirk, Broadchurch and more recently Ammonite the Mary Anning biopic. The local economy benefits from an initial injection during filming and then subsequent tourism following their release.”

Mr Sellgren said Dorset Council is also working with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) council as well as Dorset LEP to improve the county’s infrastructure.

He said the council is working with schools in Weymouth to improve standards and outcomes and said the area has great connectivity to superfast broadband, making it the best-served area of Dorset.