WE’RE now coming towards the end of the council year – and what a busy year it’s been.
Among the council’s biggest achievements this year have been saving the town bus service, introducing free beach wheelchairs, and installing free seafront wi-fi.
We’ve got several other exciting projects which will take us into the next council year, including the refurbishment of the Marine Parade toilets, the enhancement of the town’s war memorial in partnership with the Royal British Legion, and installing cash machines at Bell Cliff.
Inevitably, not everything went to plan, including the refusal of planning permission to replace the old seafront railings, difficulty in securing the Sidmouth Road park and ride, and teething problems with the seafront showers.
We start the new council year on 16 May when the mayor, Cllr Michaela Ellis, will be officially installed in her second term as first citizen.
This will be the final year of this council administration and it’s set to be an interesting 12 months as we move towards local elections on 2 May 2019. Will we see the same 14 faces on the council, or will it be all change?
Traffic survey to support park and ride application
A RADICAL solution is needed to tackle traffic problems in Lyme Regis.
As the town council isn’t responsible for highways, we’re limited in what we can do to resolve the issues which regularly bring the town to a grinding halt and impact on the local economy.
We believe the continued use of the Sidmouth Road park and ride should be part of any solution, but we need to prove this to the district planners.
We’ve applied to East Devon District Council for permission to use the site this year but we’ll need a lot more evidence if we stand any chance of securing permanent permission.
That’s why we’ve asked traffic experts to come up with a parking, transport, access and signage strategy for Lyme Regis and the surrounding area.
We admit the traffic survey should have been done sooner, but we’re not sure what more the town council could reasonably have done over the last few months to demonstrate our commitment to the survey and its conclusions.
It’s disappointing that we haven’t had the support we would like from others, despite genuine attempts to work collaboratively with them. It’s a real shame cross-border relationships have broken down recently and accusations of mis-representation have been made. We strongly deny this and believe we have acted in an open and honest way.
The members and officers involved in pursuing the application have acted in the best interests of the town and we believe any criticism of them is unfair.
The matter is now in the hands of East Devon District Council and we await their decision. Unfortunately, the position which seems to have been adopted is to refuse the application.
The council wants to move forward to resolve this issue and will continue to talk to the public and other organisations throughout the survey.
We hope the independent experts can help us agree a firm strategy which is fit-for-purpose, now and in the future, and will help us tackle the town’s traffic chaos once and for all.
Barry marks 30 years with the council
THE last 30 years have given us smartphones, the fall of the Berlin wall, social media, a smoking ban, and the Queen’s Jubilee – to name but a few.
The last three decades have seen some major changes and innovations, but at the town council, one thing has always remained constant.
Our head groundsman Barry Trott is this year marking 30 years of service to the council.
Barry left Moores Biscuits where he worked as a baker to join the council on 5 April 1988 as a gardener/handyman, later being promoted to head groundsman.
Things have been a little less eventful since his first day, when a colleague cut off his toe with a lawnmower!
Barry said he enjoys his job because he likes being outside and couldn’t bear to be stuck inside four walls.
Congratulations to Barry – our thanks for 30 years of loyalty to the council.
Toilets revamp well underway
THE refurbishment work is well underway at the Marine Parade toilets.
All the internal fixtures and fittings have been taken out and the internal wall is coming down this week to create what will eventually be unisex toilets.
The chosen colour scheme is a vibrant green and we’re hoping to have some eye-catching images of Lyme Regis on the walls.
Working behind the scenes ahead of local government changes
EXPECT big changes in local government in the next year or so.
Two new unitary councils will be created in Dorset and they will be looking closely at what services they can no longer afford to provide.
The town council is working hard behind the scenes to limit the impact these changes have on Lyme Regis and where possible, take on services which are important to the town.
These include public toilets, the tourist information centre, town-centre street cleaning, and grants to local organisations including the museum and theatre.
We’ve put a proposal to West Dorset District Council, which protects vital services but is based on one fundamental principle – any services we take on will be at no extra cost to Lyme Regis rate payers.
Police commit to regular meetings with council
WE recently met with the Dorset police and crime commissioner and raised concerns over the lack of policing in the town.
Martyn Underhill took up our invitation to come to Lyme Regis in April to meet with the mayor, Cllr Michaela Ellis, and the town clerk, John Wright.
Top of the agenda was the reduced level of police presence in the town, particularly in the summer and during major events.
In the past, we’ve held regular liaison meetings with the Lyme Regis neighbourhood policing team but recently we’ve found it difficult to have direct contact with officers.
Mr Underhill committed to regular liaison meetings, and we’re pleased PCSO Amanda King is now spending a lot more time in Lyme Regis.
The above is promoted content written and provided by the town council