The recent licensing objection to the lapdancing club, by a new entry to the holiday rental market, has brought up a new and worrying trend in the town. Forget the insanity of buying a flat as a business, then objecting to an existing business that has never caused a problem. There is a bigger problem, here.

And the problem is Air B&B. The town is becoming full of them, often owned by people who don’t live here.The problem is obvious. The hospitality trade is the dominant employer in the town. That generally means low wages and zero hours hours contracts where people earn very little during the winter.

And these workers need somewhere to live. If the exponential growth of holiday homes continues in the town, there will simply be nowhere for workers to actually live. Workers will move, businesses will die, and the heart will be ripped out the town.

It’s a self destructive cycle.

I’ve lost count of the amount of locals I’ve seen literally begging for affordable accommodation in Weymouth FB sites. Rental prices are spiralling in the extremely limited private rental stock that hasn’t been converted over to Air B&B.

If the Council don’t start to deal with this soon, it will affect the town beyond all recognition.

The hospitality trade needs tourist, the tourists need the hospitality trade. But none of it exists if hospitality workers can’t find reasonably priced accommodation, and cannot reasonably live off hospitality industry wages.

No decent accommodation for locals means a flood of our young people out of the town, as they look for better careers, and somewhere they can live affordably. This is already happening in many places in Cornwall.

The balance needs redressed. It can’t continue the way it’s going.

The Council need to grasp the nettle, and hospitality workers need to get organised and find a voice, as do hospitality businesses who are now struggling to find good employees.

No affordable accommodation = no hospitality workers = no hospitality venues.

We have a vibrant holiday town, but the balance is tipping. We either do something to keep it vibrant, or we accept the town becoming a genteel venue with very little hospitality, for well off, retired tourists, where our young people get on a train, and get out of as soon as they can. And let’s not forget, the less venues, the less competition, and prices for everything become more expensive for everyone, including locals.

There is a place for for holiday lets, there is a place for hospitality venues, and there is a place for hospitality workers. They can all co-exist and are mutually dependent on each other. But we need to find a fair balance for everyone, because currently, the scales are tipping in a precarious direction.

Stuart Lane

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