MEMBERS of the public have vented their anger at councillors for supporting a plan to bar residents from public gardens in Weymouth during the Olympics.

They spoke out at a full council meeting of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council after members of the authority’s management committee backed Olympics organisers’ plans for the Nothe Gardens to become a ticketed venue during the 2012 Games.

Olympics organising committee LOCOG wants to charge spectators £20 to £50 for a day’s admission to the gardens to view the sailing events.

Andy Hutchings said: “I feel very sorry as a resident of this borough that this council has made the decision to bar the people from going to the Nothe, which they have been free to enjoy for many years.

“You are barring the public of Weymouth and Portland from going there for free during the Olympics.”

Mr Hutchings said he thought it was wrong for a handful of councillors to make the decision.

He added: “You should all have made the decision here tonight, not 10 members of the management committee.”

Lib Dem Councillor John Birtwistle accused the council of ‘stunning arrogance’ for claiming that losing use of the gardens for a fortnight would be an ‘acceptable balance’ against the economic benefits it would bring to the borough.

Speaking at full council, he said: “I’ve had extensive discussions with the chief executive about this.

“I was told that it was already decided ‘in effect’ when we agreed to the London Olympic bid.”

Barrack Road resident Roger Genge said he had distributed a survey asking residents what they think.

He said: “I’ve had about 20 back and not one has come back to me supporting the closure.

“You have no right to enclose it for a private function.

“I was looking for some clarification that this would not create a precedent for future use.”

Councillor Geoff Petherick, leader of the management committee, said LOCOG will be submitting a planning application for use of the gardens and the fort.

He said: “The new chief executive has the opportunity to negotiate the terms of a licence.

“This process has to go through a planning application. There will be plenty of opportunity to do whatever we as a council feel.”

Council chief executive David Clarke said he would be negotiating the terms of the licence for use of the gardens with LOCOG.

He added: “I’m not here to defend LOCOG because I want to sit down and negotiate that licence.

“What is clear is that LOCOG didn’t know whether to approach the council as landowner first, or the public.

“They did choose to approach the landowner first and they have agreed they would be consulting Weymouth Civic Society about Nothe Fort, the Friends of Nothe Gardens and will also consult the public.”