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Council meeting abandoned as chairman fell ill

Tuesday’s Weymouth and Portland borough council meeting had to be abandoned after its chairman became unwell and officials cleared the room.

Council leader Geoff Cant had just opened a debate on the transfer of assets to Portland Town Council when he needed support from vice chairman Mike Byatt as he started to fall forward from his chair.

As officials cleared the room at the borough council offices in Commercial Road fellow councillor, Dr Jon Orrell, went to assist Mr Cant putting him the recovery position on the floor.

Mr Cant was later able to walk to a waiting ambulance before being taken to hospital for a check up.

The busy meeting included a decision to extend Weymouth’s beach dog orders for another year.

There will now be a consultation, starting in the autumn, before new orders are brought in by Easter 2020.A delay in renewing the orders had been caused by officer time being taken up by the creation of the new Dorset Council, now less than two months away.

PORTLAND Mayor Charlie Flack attended the meeting and claimed the island has been ‘kicked in the teeth’ over the way assets being switched to Portland had been handled. The issue has also caused concern for the Portland Museum which says it is worried that the uncertainty could lead to a loss of grant income.

It had been believed that all the council owned assets would simply switch to the town council in April when the new council structures come into place – but last week Portland was told that the assets could only be operated ‘on licence’ for a year, until legal transfers were concluded. It will mean everything initially being transferred to the new Dorset Council.

Cllr Flack said the process had been a farce and left the town council with a budget for the year ahead which had been set on the premise that assets were being transferred. It had also started advertising for staff to run some of the services.

The debate on the issue was cut short when committee chairman Cllr Geoff Cant became unwell after outlining the council’s position. He said there was 100 per cent support to the transfer of assets – but legal complications meant the work could not be completed in time.

A LACK of parking around the harbourside could affect Weymouth’s chances of attracting visitors to waterside events – according to a warning from a town resident. Graham Parry said while he welcomes the Magna Housing proposals to re-develop the North Quay former council offices he warned it would reduce the amount of public parking on the southern side of the town harbour.

He said that once the Brewers Quay development was also completed there would be very little public parking in and around Hope Square without visitors having to make a trek to the Nothe Gardens car park which he said was both difficult to drive to and from, and to reach on foot.

SEAFRONT shelters in Weymouth are continuing to be used by rough sleepers – despite a winter night shelter now being in operation in the town.

Housing brief holder Cllr Gill Taylor said there was nothing anyone could do to force people into a night shelter – although council staff and volunteers had tried their best to persuade people.

Another councillor said that on Friday there were 12 people who bedded down at the shelter at St Mary’s church but two had chosen to remain on the streets, despite being told about the night shelter.

WEYMOUTH councillor Dr Jon Orrell has claimed Universal Credit is forcing more people into becoming homeless. He says more people are ending up on the streets since the introduction of the new benefit system in the area a year ago – because of cuts to their payments or lengthy delays.

The borough council has been told that more than a quarter of a million pounds will be added to the cost of helping homeless people in the borough this financial year.