The council got it right this time

Food stands on top of the Marine Parade shelters - but none of them were local

THEY said they would get it right – and they certainly did this Bank Holiday. I refer, of course, to the town council’s assurance that there would be no repeat of the awful mess left on the Marine Parade, and other associated problems, after the early May Bank Holiday.

Town clerk John Wright put his hand up and admitted the council had failed on that occasion after taking a battering at the annual town meeting and subsequent gathering of the council.

Those of us who are quick to criticise our council should also be prepared to congratulate them with equal speed. So here goes (deep breath): “Well done Lyme Regis Town Council, its officers, outside staff and members.”

Congratulations also to the Dorset Waste Partnership who played their part in collecting rubbish and emptying bins through the weekend.

Deputy town clerk Mark Green was on duty in Lyme over the weekend, despite the fact he lives many miles from Lyme, and on Monday I saw him checking every waste bin along the seafront where many extra were placed. Council staff were also on duty to see that things ran smoothly and there was no one bin which was overflowing.

Bank Holiday Monday was particularly crowded, although Saturday and Sunday not so, thanks to yet another inaccurate weather forecast by the meteorologists which probably resulted in many hundreds of people staying at home.

Lyme will have many busy days in the weeks to come and one more bank holiday at the end of August. It’s important that the plans put in place for last weekend are extended throughout the rest of the summer if Lyme is to keep it’s reputation as one of the South West’s most beautiful towns.

And that is what really brings people to our town. The festivals and food fairs add to the atmosphere but it is the sheer beauty of the town which is our greatest asset. That is why the majority of people come here. We should never underestimate that – or let them down.

Is it time to say ‘enough is enough’?

ON the face of it the clashing of the street food festival and the jazz weekend didn’t seem to cause too much trouble – but it was a mistake. I think most councillors agree with this. It was exacerbated because it was a bank holiday and on the Monday it was gloriously hot. The town was rammed.

Accepting a company from Wales to run the street food festival on top of the Marine Parade shelters has prompted much criticism from local traders who were not given the chance to take part.

The Food Rocks Festival (to be held in September), run by Mark Hix, always gives local businesses the choice to be part of it and the finger has been pointed firmly at the town council for damaging local trade.

The clash of events clearly had some impact on those food and drink stands which the jazz organisers engage to help defray the cost of bands. It would be interesting to know how much the company paid to occupy the top of the shelters. Is their fee accepted as a fundraising exercise or just to provide additional attraction for visitors? If the council allow this to happen again, it may be a good idea to insist that at least a third of the stalls are made available to local traders.

A few eyebrows were also raised when it was learned that the council allowed vehicles access to the top of the shelters by driving down over the steep Lister Gardens, surely a dangerous exercise. I’m not aware of this happening before. Permission was granted for this to happen but a number of councillors said they knew nothing about it and would have opposed the idea.

Some have also questioned the advisability of running any large event on a bank holiday. The only way to establish whether the festivals bring in additional people would be to ban all events on a bank holiday, even if it was for one year only. The argument is that it’s the only way we will find out whether the festivals bring in extra people.

Such an idea, of course, would not be popular with the festival organisers who will know that Lyme is always packed over a bank holiday and their events benefit from this. But sometimes I wonder if we have lost site of the fact that at some time we have to draw the line and stop cramming more people into our town which in itself may well start to drive people away.

The first ever marquee on top the shelters

THE concerns expressed about the advisability and safety of erecting marquees on top of the Marine Parade shelters in Lyme Regis got me thinking about the first time this occurred. I put my hand up. I was the culprit.

It was back in the 1970s when I was secretary of the Regatta & Carnival Committee and we were planning to stage a number of events in the Marine Theatre. But the running of the theatre had just been handed over to John Rodd, licensee of the White Hart pub at Colyford and a colourful character around the Lyme area. Much to our annoyance, he didn’t want to host the regatta because he intended to organise his own events and therefore refused our request.

It put us in a bit of a quandary as there was no other venue close to the seafront, where all regatta events traditionally took place. At the time I had a girlfriend in London and as a treat I took her to the London Fashion Show which was held in the grounds of the Natural History Museum. It was the first time I had seen free standing marquees, those without a main pole in the middle and guide ropes.

I took the name and telephone number of the company which erected them and contacted them on my return to Lyme. So I orderered the biggest marquee they could provide which became the headquarters for the regatta week events that year.

Our treasurer at the time was town clerk Harry Williams who gave permission for us to do so. I can’t remember whether he asked for council approval or not. So you see, delegating decisions to officers about the use of the Marine Parade, a bit of a hot potato, at the moment, is nothing new.

The marquee was a great success, although soon after it was erected it poured with rain for a couple of days and we had to concoct some sort of way of diverting the deluge. We ended up buying some guttering from Bradfords and my assistant secretary Jack Caddy, who had all the difficult and dangerous jobs, had to edge his way along the front of the marquee, standing on top the railings, to erect it.

We held several events in the marquee, ranging from Bernard Glover and His Organ, which we had to manually lift onto the top of the shelters, and a disco at which Radio One DJ “Diddy” David Hamilton appeared before crowning Miss Lyme Regis the following day. When he saw how many people were in the marquee he said there was no way he would make his way through the crowd. So Jack and I picked him up under the arms and frogmarched him to the stage, with his girlfriend, model Kathy Mckinnon scurrying behind us.

Up for the cup – 17 times in 10 years!

IT must have been the longest foot- ball season in living memory but it ground to a halt on Wednesday when Lyme Regis 1st team completed their fixtures with a 2-1 victory over Heavitree Reserves to lift the Grandisson Cup for the first time in the club’s 133 years of history.

It followed a very gutsy victory for the Reserves who retained the Football Express Cup the previous week, which means the club has won 17 trophies in the last ten years. Incredible for such a small town.

This was followed by the club’s usual rowdy but enjoyable presentation night in a marquee at the club where an excellent dinner was provided by top scorer, Steve Batey, and his girlfriend, Kirsty Roberts, who have started a new catering company Fossil Food. We were able to use our new £60,000 kitchen to its full capacity for the first time and I am sure there will be many more such occasions in the future.

Work will now start shortly on the construction of a covered stand for spectators as the second phase of the club’s three-year development programme so generously supported by Lyme Regis Town Council.

Woodmead Halls
About Philip Evans 169 Articles
Veteran journalist and newspaper manager Philip Evans has worked in the publishing industry for more than half a century. He started out as a reporter for Pulman’s Weekly News as a young man and went on to work for an international publishing company in the UK, South Africa and Australia before returning to Lyme Regis where he is still reporting on local events as he has done for more than 53 years.

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