FORGOTTEN TOWNS: Weymouth and Portland

The following resolution was passed at the District congress of the South West England & Cornwall District of the Communist Party of Britain, December 2023

Weymouth & Portland have become forgotten towns in which a fragile economy, shrinking job opportunities and rising costs place increasing pressure on local communities and present few options for young people. A recent report, Forgotten Towns – Weymouth, Portland and the coastal economy (Marfleet & Lennon-Wood 2022) traces the history of the local economy from major job losses following the 1990s closure of Navy and MoD sites, through decisions leaving the community dependent on seasonal low-paid tourism work, to the current deprivation and lack of opportunities. Local MPs, authorities and agencies have been ineffective in addressing these problems: one result is that Weymouth & Portland stands at or near the base for key regional and national indices measuring income, educational achievement and social mobility.

This District Congress resolves to:
Support Dorset Branch and Dorset Trades Union Council in their campaign on the specific problems facing Weymouth & Portland, involving low wages and family incomes, child poverty, social mobility issues, a reliance on seasonal work and poor public transport.

They are campaigning for further research as identified by the Forgotten Towns report as well as specific policy initiatives:
• Dorset Council to introduce the Real Living Wage (RLW) for all employees, to require all contractors to implement the RLW, and to work proactively to encourage employers across the county to implement the RLW, making Dorset a Living Wage County.

• Dorset Council to establish a programme of workshops at schools and colleges in South Dorset on employment rights and legal remedies, and to organise open sessions on employment rights in Weymouth & Portland.
• Dorset Council to undertake a poverty review for Weymouth & Portland to report within six months on headline issues of employment, wages and family incomes; child poverty; and social mobility.

• Dorset Council to create a liaison group in response to recommendations of the Social Mobility Commission, bringing together Dorset Council, town councils in Weymouth and Portland, Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and local health trusts to undertake engagement with community organisations in “bottom up” mode, establishing means to hear and respond to perceived needs.