The south west young farmers' convention in Weymouth this weekend is being strongly defended against criticicm of the youngsters' behaviour in the past.

Hundreds of young farmers aged between 10 and 28 from across the south west will arrive in the town for the annual event today (Friday).

They will compete in competitions and activities at different venues, including hotels and the Pavilion, between now and Sunday. 

It is the first time in four years the event has taken place.

Some are known to use the weekend off from their agricultural responsibilities to enjoy a few drinks which has, in the past, led to allegations of high-spirited antics and anti-social behaviour reported by locals and some businesses.

But Nick Sansom, president for the South West Area of Young Farmers, feels a lot of 'scaremongering' has taken place.

"A lot of [the complaints] were unsubstantiated and a lot of scaremongering that went on in the past," he said.

"It transpired that these events turned out to be nothing like how they were reported because of social media and one thing or another.

"It is very apparent there are certain [parts] within the local community that do not want us there for whatever reason that may be.

"We have been in communication with the police and council from a very early stage and everyone is happy with what we have in place."

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A joint leaflet has been released by Dorset Police and Dorset Council saying 'numerous meetings' have taken place to ensure 'reasonable steps' have been taken to mitigate risks following 'some issues' experienced by businesses and residents in previous years.

"There will be a town team in place over the weekend and all have attended a behaviour meeting talking about being respectful to people and their property," Nick added.

"If we want to use these facilities then we need to make sure no one has any reason not to have us back.

"There will be fewer people descending on the town than there would be normal holidaymakers in the peak of the holiday season.

"Everybody is going to enjoy themselves and it is predominantly about the competitions, with two parties contained within the Pavilion.

"They are going to have a drink and a fun time because for a lot of these guys it is their one and only holiday every year - they work in a remote industry and this is a chance to come together and enjoy some social time.

"It is all about the competitions and the charity side that normally does not get a look in because everyone wants to focus on some mess in McDonald's."