Moving Dorset's homeless population into three hotels in a small area in Weymouth during the pandemic was a "mistake and should never happen again," councillors say.

The reliance on Weymouth to deal with the majority of Dorset’s homeless issues by housing them in B&Bs is a policy that causes "long term social and commercial damage" and should be avoided in the future, they have stated.

Dealing with homeless people in their own communities where support can be accessed is a far better strategy, authorities have been told.

A group of local councillors have responded following problems of anti-social behaviour which have made residents' lives a misery, and have said how their campaign has led authorities to recognise the problem and take action.

As reported, people living in the Park District have told of dealing and drug use, violence, street drinking and lewd behaviour.

The ward councillors for the areas affected by the problems by concentrating emergency homelessness placements in the Mon Ami, Richmoor and Riviera Hotels have now responded, stating they how they have been 'working continuously' to get the anti-social behaviour reduced.

In a joint statement, Cllrs Pete Barrow and David Gray (Dorset Council - Radipole), Louie O'Leary (Dorset Council - Littlemoor & Preston), Jon Orrell (Dorset Council - Melcombe Regis) and Ken Whatley and Tia Roos (Weymouth Town Council - Melcombe Regis), said: "In late March the Government gave local authorities 48 hours to get all the homeless people, into accommodation as part of the Government’s response to Covid 19. Dorset Council has no in-house hostels which means they have to rely on private B+Bs and hotels to house homeless residents.

"The lack of any effective action to address rough sleeping over many years and the incredibly short time scale meant Dorset Council had to literally beg the private sector to take in the homeless and only the three hotels mentioned agreed. This meant that all of the homeless from across Dorset were moved into the three hotels and were therefore concentrated in a very small area. This was a mistake and should never happen again.

"Many of our rough sleepers and homeless people have serious health issues, both physical and mental, and self medicate with drugs or alcohol. The majority are receiving help from mental health teams, addiction workers and housing advisors. A minority do not accept help and they cause serious anti social behaviour."

The councillors said they heard residents worries with many being very concerned about safety and the effect this would have on the tourist trade, and said it was "heartbreaking" to hear how it was blighting their lives.

The group say they have been in contact with senior officers and councillors at Dorset Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Chief Constable, local police, MP Richard Drax , Public Health and Weymouth Town Council and have made a number of demands.

They say their campaign has delivered the following:

* All authorities now fully aware of the situation and need to reduce the anti social behaviour quickly

* Dorset Council now treating the problem as a very high priority and homeless residents are being found accommodation nearer to their original locations as fast as possible

* Security officer cover at hotels increased

* Dorset Council investigating setting up its own hostels

* Dorset Council now holding weekly update meeting of all authorities to which local residents are invited so they can see what action is being taken and ask questions

* Dorset Police now using all available powers to reduce anti social behaviour with the worst offenders taken before the courts, and with at least one sent to prison