DOOR staff in Weymouth say Dorset Council's decision to hire a London-based company to support the reopening of pubs is a 'slap in the face'.

The council has brought a security company in to manage crowds as hospitality businesses open - but three well-established local firms - including one run by Weymouth's longest-standing bouncer - say they were not given the opportunity to apply for the contract, worth just over £5,000.

Steve Parker, owner of Weymouth-based UDL Security, said he provides door staff for around 90 per cent of the town's licensed premises, as well as at major local events, and has industry-standard SIA accreditation.

"With the economy as it is, I think it's outrageous the council isn't supporting local businesses," Mr Parker said. "I've got 30 odd lads and lasses still on furlough asking what's going on. We cover Portland Port, Lulworth Estates and events such as the Steam Fair and Weymouth Pride - we're well established. We feel like we've been really let down."

Mr Parker has been working the doors in Weymouth since 1985, as well as having owned various nightclubs including Dorothy's and the Malibu.

"When you work on the door you get to know who to keep an eye on and how to ask them to calm down - early intervention solves a lot of problems," he added.

"I've had (pub) landlords phone me up asking 'what's going on, who are these people? I think it's a very poor decision from the council - they've let my company down, and my staff, but they've also let the locals of Weymouth down."

Mr Parker's son Shaun, who runs UDL, added: "We have a great relationship with Dorset Police and we're a familiar face, we know who to look out for and where the hotspots are in the town centre.

"It would have only taken one call - if the council phoned up last week and said they needed a team for Friday and Saturday they would have had it.

"I'm confused why they've done this. It's not right."

Dan Wilson, managing director at Weymouth firm Event Security Southern, said he contacted Dorset Council to enquire about the contract and did not hear back.

His company has SIA and ACS accreditation to work on Government contracts, and supports Weymouth Carnival and Dorset County Show.

He said: "I found out on social media that they'd hired an out-of town firm. I feel quite let down - especially when I hear the council encouraging people to 'support local, stay local, buy local'.

"We're a trusted firm that contributes to the economy and would have very much liked the opportunity."

A representative from another reputed Weymouth security firm, who asked not to be named, said: "We haven't been consulted. It's always a bit frustrating when councils don't use firms on their doorstep."

A Dorset Council spokesman said: "It’s been great to welcome visitors back to Dorset this weekend. Supporting the community and businesses to safely manage the opening of pubs and restaurants across the Dorset Council area, including Weymouth, was our main aim. We will continue to monitor the level of need for additional resources over the coming weekend may adjust them as necessary.

“A small crowd safety team was brought in to work alongside our own employees at Weymouth Harbour. A number of local security firms were asked to provide this safety function but couldn’t provide the right number of staff with the appropriate experience, at short notice.

"Tender processes can be lengthy and costly and as this was an urgent requirement, a company from outside the Dorset area was appointed at a cost of £5,256.00, which is being met from central Government funding. The contract awarded did not meet the financial threshold for a full tender process. We’re committed to using local providers wherever possible and always try to do so in the first instance."

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