SOME disappointment but a great deal of incredulity in the Guildhall this week when it was confirmed that there will be no transfer of assets currently owned by West Dorset District Council to the town council.
With the district council about to disappear as the new unitary authority takes over the running of Dorset, it was expected that some local facilities, such as the public toilets and the Tourist Information Centre, would be taken over by Lyme Regis Town Council. Discussions have been taking place for months between the two authorities but district and county councillor Daryl Turner expressed the view at Wednesday’s full town council meeting that the Shadow Executive for the new council would not be transferring any assets that impacted on their budget – at least for the time being.
The new council does not come into power until May of next year so any negotiations are likely to be put on hold until the unitary authority is in place and operating.
So is this a disappointment or a get out of jail card for the town council? Councillor Richard Doney referred to all the hard work that had been put in by town councillors now being “kicked down the road”. But some councillors feel that taking on some of the facilities that have been discussed could end up being more of a liability, especially the public toilets.
The town council has already taken the ownership of the Marine Parade toilets off the hands of West Dorset Council and made a success of the move, having converted the much derided loos next to the Amusement Arcade into a unisex facility.
Councillor Turner, at the same meeting, also admitted that the operation of the public toilets this summer by West Dorset Council had been “abysmal”, not only in Lyme but throughout the district, and that new contractors were being appointed.
Taking over the toilets would be a very expensive operation for the town council but having local control would probably lead to better facilities and less complaints from visitors. In the end it makes sense that they should be run locally rather than from 25 miles down the road.
The town council used to run the TIC but sold it to the district council. I always thought this was a mistake and its future would be more secure under town council control. But it would seem this may not happen now – at least in the immediate future.
Now I can truly say ‘I ate all the pies’
THE two events clashed – a meeting of Lyme Town Council’s Strategy and Finance Committee (yawn!) and a pie tasting invitation at the Volunteer Inn. Now which one would you chose?
Precisely, so I despatched Francesca to the Guildhall and joined Geoff Baker at the Volly for the pie tasting in readiness for the menu relaunch at Lyme’s most popular traditional pub.
At last I can now truly say that “I ate all the pies” as I tasted every one of the many on offer – vegetarian, vegan and meat – all of which were quite delicious.
Geoff’s partner Jill Newton had gone to the trouble of drawing up a spreadsheet on which we had to give our comments on each one. I just put “delicious” in each column.
The pub scene in Lyme has been dominated over the summer months with the launch of SWIM on the seafront and the refurbishment of the Pilot Boat, both of which have been well received especially by visitors.
But some, especially the local drinkers, prefer a more traditional watering hole and they don’t come more traditional than The Volly. It’s primarily a locals’ haunt frequented by visitors who love its old-world pub atmosphere.
Another favourite with the locals is the Nag’s Head in Silver Street where new licensees James and Rebecca are making waves, especially with their fantastic meat draw on a Friday evening.
It’s good also to see the Ship Inn in Coombe Street, another local’s favourite, putting on live music on occasions. Long may these establishments prosper alongside the big boys.
The day I lost a cricket final
HAVING spent 10 years as chairman and now filling the role of president of Lyme Regis FC, most people connect me with football. But as a young man, cricket was also one of my sporting passions. It still is.
I was never a great cricketer- mainly a 2nd X1 player – and my great regret was never having scored a century. But in my very last game I did hit 94 before being caught out on the boundary going for a six.
I was distraught at missing my maiden century in my very last game. My temper didn’t improve when my eldest daughter said over a drink after the game: “Never mind Dad, it’s only a game!” I won’t tell you what my reply was.
But I enjoyed many happy hours on the cricket field at Uplyme and made many friendships which have lasted to this day.
When the parlous state of the cricket club was highlighted earlier in the summer, I was more than happy to help out and, with fellow former player Martin Rowe, we organised a reunion for ex-players at the football club which raised around £1,300.
There’s nothing old cricketers enjoy more than getting together and talking about our playing days – and this was one of those occasions. And with characters like Brian Rattenbury and John Stamp in attendance, we were assured of a cracking night.
My great mate John Stamp has never let me forget the occasion when we were playing in a cup final at Seaton. I was fielding at deep gully and the light was fading fast. It was the last ball of the game and our opponents needed four runs to win.
The ball was skied in my direction but I dropped the catch. All I had to do was to throw the ball back to the keeper, the batsmen would have taken a single run and we would have won the cup by three runs. But instead of letting the ball drop to the ground I saw Rodney Rowe trotting towards me and I tried to volley the ball to him to catch. Don’t ask.
It was a perfect volley – better than any I executed whilst playing football – and the ball flew over the boundary for four runs giving our opponents victory. Why I attempted to do this I have no idea. But that’s cricket for you – it’s a great leveller.
I certainly can’t repeat John Stamp’s one-word expletive shouted at me from the other side of the ground. It was, I assure you, a very quiet dressing room after the game and I wasn’t invited to go for the usual after-match drink.
I was also pleased to attend the club’s annual dinner and presentation at the Talbot Arms on Friday night and to see that spirits are running high among the players despite a difficult season for the two teams who both finished bottom of their respective leagues and that great progress is being made over the future ownership arrangements for the pavilion, which was built by the players back in the 1980s.
Uplyme Cricket Club was formed 132 years ago and there was never any chance that it would fold, but it has been a difficult time. The club has been through some sticky moments throughout its history and I have no doubt the current crop of players and officials will turn it around again. I wish them luck.
George Clooney’s ex at the food festival
LYME’s hectic programme of summer events finished with the staging of the sixth Food Rocks festival organised by the Mark Hix organisation.
The festival, which raises money for the RNLI and The Fishermen’s Mission, seems to go from strength to strength and this year’s programme included one of the country’s most popular celebrity chefs, Michael Caines.
Local chef James Whetlor, son of former Lyme mayor Ken Whetlor, now a provider of goat meat to top restaurants, also gave a demonstration.
Mark’s presence always attracts and few well known faces and this year model and presenter Lisa Snowdon, a former girlfriend of George Clooney, spent two days at the festival and joined in all the fun.
We had a small stand outside the festival marquee where all the cooking demonstrations took place to give out a few papers and magazines. Lisa’s boyfriend took a copy of LymeOnline and sat down and read it cover to cover before telling us he could not believe such a small town could produce a newspaper with such comprehensive coverage.
Mark stayed on site throughout the weekend, chatting to all and sundry and posing for dozens of selfies. He was also pleased to see a number of local food and drink providers among the many standholders and is keen for as many Lyme-based outlets to be part of the festival.
Getting all the stands and equipment onto the site is a huge logistical challenge and there were a few unnecessary clashes with local councillors as the event was closing down.