Dorset

Weymouth's deprived seaside community 'disenfranchised'

Melcombe Regis in Weymouth Image copyright Google
Image caption Mr Prosser said the focus would be on improving the quality of housing in the area

A board set up to tackle inequality and social problems in a seaside community is yet to have any tangible effect, according to residents.

The partnership of council, police, health bosses and other agencies was launched in November to improve life in Weymouth's Melcombe Regis district.

But at a public meeting on Wednesday, representatives outnumbered residents, who said they felt "disenfranchised".

The Melcombe Regis Board said there had been "activity on the ground".

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Board chairman Matt Prosser said: "It does take time to establish relationships, to understand the challenges each organisation faces. We are seeing some activity on the ground now."

Image caption Mr Prosser said the focus would be on improving the quality of housing in the area

Mr Prosser said the board had hired a part-time community development worker and given money to the Lantern Trust, which runs a resource centre for vulnerable people.

He added: "We are doing work, particularly on the housing issue, which is our number one priority."

Resident Jenny Burchill, who sits on the Park Community Forum, said: "I'm told there are changes but as a resident you don't see them.

"I know they are disappointed with the lack of residents who have turned up but unfortunately I think the residents in general feel quite disenfranchised because we've had so many of these boards over the years and we've told them what's wrong and nothing has changed.

"We are an itinerant population here. We have a lot of HMOs [houses of multiple occupation] - people are here for six months - so they don't have a vested interest in the area, they are not interested in what's going on at all."

According to police figures, there were 232 crimes reported in Melcombe Regis in March, compared with 26 in neighbouring Weymouth East and 53 in Radipole.

These included 37 violent or sexual offences and 16 instances of criminal damage or arson.

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