PARTS of Weymouth and Portland will be targeted to help improve the life chances of residents.

The work, which will continue until 2033, is part of a home-grown ‘levelling up’ programme from Dorset Council.

It comes after the council’s bid for £17million from the Government's Levelling Up fund for projects in Weymouth was unsuccessful.

The council’s place and resources scrutiny committee heard this week (Tues) that although Dorset was considered relatively well off, Weymouth and Portland had consistently been rated at the bottom of a list of areas for poor social mobility.

Said a Dorset Council report: “The poor ranking was primarily down to children from deprived families attending inadequately rated primary and secondary schools, poor KS2 attainment, poor ‘points score entry’ for A-Levels and the proportion of the working age population earning below the ‘real living wage’.”

By contrast East Dorset was 147th in the list of well off areas with its residents enjoying better health, incomes and longer life.

“Stronger Neighbourhoods” Project lead Diane Evans told councillor that the Weymouth and Portland project, to improve inequalities and social mobility, would be more of a marathon than a sprint.

She said the council hoped to find new ways to engage with local communities and would encourage local people to take the lead on what they wanted to achieve.

“We want to unlock the voices which often go unheard,” she said.

The areas chosen for the work are Littlemoor West, Westham, Melcombe Regis, Rodwell and Chapelhay, Weymouth West, Tophill and Easton, Fortuneswell and The Grove.

She said what the council wanted to achieve was "significant and sustainable" improvements to people’s lives in those areas – using the skills learned locally to help other Dorset areas.

“We are looking to build a very strong engagement with our communities and identify new ways  of unlocking the potential, the knowledge and the drive that we already have in our communities,” she said…

“We passionately believe that finding the right solutions to these long-standing challenges and the poor outcomes required real input from those areas…we believe there is potential in our communities to meet some of their own needs and we would like to work with them, to provide whatever they need, to make that possible.”

People living in the areas can expect to see work start between January and March next year with a strategy being developed over the following months.

Dorset Council had submitted bids worth £17m from the government's Levelling Up fund for a series of projects chosen following recommendations made in a public consultation. The projects included the regeneration of Weymouth Harbourside, focusing on Brewers Quay, North Quay and the Peninsula, the creation of an Aquaculture Innovation Centre, and the extension of the facilities available to Dorset Innovation Park users, including waterfront access on Portland.