A CAMPAIGN has been launched to lobby the government for investment in seaside towns such as Weymouth.

Regeneration is the name of the game: ‘Siding with the Seaside' is being run by the trade association for amusement arcades and gaming machines - Bacta.

Bacta said it wants to boost tourism and tackle 'increasingly challenging economic conditions' that have blighted seaside towns in the UK. It intends to lobby parliament for more investment in transport and tourism.

As part of the campaign Bacta said it will also put pressure on the government to reduce tax burdens for amusement arcades.

John White, CEO at Bacta said: “Seaside amusements are a quintessential part of British culture and this campaign is about preserving Britain’s history of seaside fun for future generations to enjoy."

Weymouth's older amusement arcades include Alexandra Gardens, which opened in 1964. Originally a concert hall, the building burnt down in 1993 but was later rebuilt.

At the other end of the promenade is the Pier Bandstand. Amusements have been there since the 1960s.

The campaign has won the backing of community figures, including town mayor Graham Winter, who said: "We welcome this initiative and any others that encourage tourists to the area.

"Tourism is vitally important to the economy of Weymouth and the surrounding community."

Claudia Webb, chief operations officer at Weymouth BID hailed the campaign as positive news for the area.

"Any influence Bacta can have to ensure policy supports tourism is welcomed - as is investment in local businesses”, she said.

Also in favour of the call for government help is Jason West of the Weyforward group, however Mr West also believes coastal communities should look to a new approach.

He said: "Having some slots and games close to the seafront is traditional - people of all ages enjoy them from time to time.

"However seaside towns such as Weymouth need to reinvent themselves for the long term off-season future. As digital connectivity grows, more young families and self-employed people are likely to move here from polluted and overcrowded cities.

"If Weymouth sought to attract these people it would begin to realise its full potential."

John White, CEO at Bacta said: “The British seaside continues to be a magnet for tourism and an economic engine for coastal communities. The hospitality industry employs one in ten people in coastal towns and is responsible for 250 million annual visits, contributing £1.7bn to the economy.

“Seaside Family Entertainment Centres (FECs) are an important part of coastal communities, providing essential income for families, but also preserving our heritage.”

Not everyone welcomed the Bacta campaign. Philip Marfleet, convenor of Weymouth and Portland Action on Wages (WeyPAW), said: “New seaside amusements and gaming machines will not ‘re-energise’ Weymouth as Bacta suggests.

“A fifth of all jobs in Weymouth and Portland rely on tourism - but many of these jobs are seasonal, part-time and at rock-bottom wages – one reason why average incomes in south Dorset are so low.

“More amusement arcades won’t solve this crisis. We need a focused effort by local authorities and MPs. They can take a lead by addressing industrial decline and poor employer practices.

“Above all, we need all employers in the area to pay the living wage. Perhaps Bacta would commit to campaign among its members to end practices of underpayment and insecure contracts? That might start to make a difference.”