“We want to see some action.”

That’s the message from Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership as communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid reveals that a review is underway of how funding is shared out across urban and rural areas.

Councillors were left ‘outraged’ in February when Weymouth and Portland received nothing from a £19.5m funding boost from central government to Dorset LEP, despite a bid being made for Weymouth’s flood defences. 

Leader of Weymouth and Portland Borough Council Cllr Jeff Cant and South Dorset MP Richard Drax are due to go to London to argue for a bigger slice of funding. 

The delegation has been delayed by the general election, but it is still set to go ahead at a date to be confirmed.

Now, Cllr Cant has received assurances from Mr Javid that a review of how LEP funding is allocated is going ahead, after he ‘complained bitterly’ about the situation at a local government conference in Birmingham.

And Gordon Page, chairman of Dorset LEP has spoken out for the first time about his own frustrations over how the system is weighted.

Cllr Cant said: “I stood up at the conference and complained bitterly and publicly about the fact Weymouth has had very poor treatment over this funding.

“I expected to be flattened, but he said it’s absolutely an interesting question and that they are going to undertake a thorough review of how LEPs deliver their funding to address these concerns.”

Mr Page said it is an issue which affects a wider area than Dorset and that he has raised concerns with Mr Javid himself.

The funding allocation formula is complex, with bids rated independently on criteria set out by central government, including value for money and cost benefit. 

These scores go through the regional director based in Bristol, then decisions are made as to which projects are among the top three or four bids before funding is confirmed by the government.

Mr Page said: “It’s really quite difficult for rural areas to compete with city conurbations who can generally produce benefits in terms of housing and employment much quicker and on a greater scale.

“The LEP network is an umbrella organisation and we have all sent letters to various ministers explaining that there are imbalances and we would like a discussion on how best to overcome this without breaking any cost rules.”

He added: “As a businessman I do get quite frustrated. I want to see some action.”

Cllr Cant warned that the future of Weymouth hangs on finding a fairer funding formula.

He said: “My theory is that when we get to unitary authorities, if we already have projects on their feet they are more likely to continue.

“I am determined to keep pushing this.”