CHARMOUTH’s annual parish meeting, held at St Andrew’s Community Hall, was attended by around 35 electors – less than last year’s 55 – but parish council chairman Peter Noel thought this was a positive sign that the council was “getting things right”.
In his annual report, Councillor Noel admitted that the council had gone through a difficulty period, at times being three or four members down. But two new councillors had been co-opted – Gerry Bearpark and Kay Solomon – leaving a vacancy for two more.
Appealing for people to put themselves forward for election, Councillor Noel said now was a good time because they would be able to have a year to see what it was like before parish elections in 2019. He was particularly pleased that someone who was born and bred in Charmouth – Gerry Bearpark – had joined the council.
Councillor Noel told the gathering that increasing rules and regulations in local government presented council staff with a “thankless task”, and he praised council clerk Lisa Tuck and her staff for dealing with the “nightmare” and keeping council records in “pristine condition”.
Councillor Noel referred to the pending unitary authority for Dorset which had become “a bit of a nightmare” with things changing every ten minutes. It had even taken 14 months for it to be decided to call in new authority “Dorset Council”.
He confirmed that the parish council were in discussions with West Dorset District Council on taking over the public toilets in Lower Sea Lane, which were “a disgrace”, and they were also in talks with Lyme Regis Town Council about sharing resources to keep them clean.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen. Most of it is a talking shop,” he said.
Reports on the work of the Foreshore Committee and the Playing Fields and Cemetery Committee were given by Councillors Graham Bender and Martin Sayers.
An update on the Charmouth Neighbourhood Plan was presented by Sarah Edwards and organisation reports were given by Bob Murphy (Charmouth Bowls Club), Alison Taylor and Marie Oldham (St Andrew’s Church Changing Spaces) and Rob Powell (Hogchester Nature Reserve).
County and district councillor Daryl Turner and district councillor Cheryl Reynolds both attended the meeting.