TOWN councillors are considering the erection of temporary sculptures on Lyme Regis beach for six weeks in the summer to encourage people not to litter.
The sculptures will take the form of an eight-feet high plastic drinks bottle, two pieces of cutlery six-feet tall and a styro-foam chip/burger box measuring four feet by four feet.
The proposal from Litter Free Coast & Sea was presented to the council last week. Whist the idea was generally accepted, members did not think the main sandy beach was a suitable location but have agreed to have further talks to find a more acceptable location.
Mr Wright reported that the sculpture would be funded by Litter Free Coast and Sea and The Arts Development Company. Applications for similar installations are being made in West Bay, Weymouth and Swanage.
A message stating ‘What We You Leave Behind’ will be included on the sculpture and information will be provided by a dinosaur-type character who will presents the facts and run dinosaur games for children.
Architectural designer Jack Raisey has been commissioned to produce the sculptures. He says they will create a “striking silhouette” against the beachscape that will encourage closer inspection, where beach-goers will find short illustrated facts and statistics outlining why it is important to eradicate single-use plastics.
Deputy mayor Councillor Jeff Scowen said it was a “great and interesting feature” but pointed out that Lyme had a tidal beach and wondered where the sculptures would go.
He said: “The beach is very small and very packed at times, so that’s my reservation. I think they are great and a super tourist attraction.”
Councillor David Ruffle said he agreed with Councillor Scowen’s reservations but he thought it was a tremendous idea.
“I think people will appreciate them and if it stops people littering the beach, all well and good,” he added.
Engage with young people
Councillor Gill Stammers was also in favour of the proposal and, as part of four beach projects along the coast, she thought it would attract media attention and engage young people who were already taking note of the concerns about the environment.
Councillor Michaela Ellis said it was a good idea but also expressed concerns about where the sculptures would be sited.
She said the size of the installation could block a lot of the beach and people were already crying out for space.
The mayor, Councillor Brian Larcombe, offered an alternative view, commenting: “A drinks bottle, a knife and fork and a food box is the type of thing you see as you drive by a motorway service station. It doesn’t tell me to take my rubbish home, it tells me this is an eating place.
“Personally. I would not like to see it on the beach. If we put it on the beach it’s adding litter. This size, I don’t think it is appropriate.”
Councillor Larcombe said he was unsure whether Lyme had a litter problem, adding that many visitors already respected the beach but the problem was with overflowing bins on the seafront.
“I think this is a measure for a different kind of resort and I think Lyme is not one of them,” he added.
Councillor Ellis pointed out that the cleanliness of the beach was down to the council’s own staff and the extra resources that he had put in.
Councillor Scowen pointed out that the sculptures would only be in place for six weeks and the exact location had not been finalised. He suggested they look for an appropriate site for rejecting the idea.
Councillor John Broom admitted he could understand the message but said he was hate to see it on the sandy beach, instead suggesting the pebble beach near Cobb Gate.
Councillor Larcombe agreed this would be a better location but his main concerns were the size of the sculptures and sending out a message that was not necessary.
“We are almost insulting them by saying ‘come on, take your rubbish home’. They are already doing that,” he added.
“I definitely don’t think the main beach is right. We have enough clutter on the front, we have got signs all over the place, we have all sorts of stuff on the beach.
“There must be a point where we stop doing so much of this because it’s starting to change the nature of what is a very beautiful front beach and we have got to be very careful particularly something of this size.
“The message is not entirely obvious. It seems to advertise that we are an eating place.”
Councillor Graham Turner said he did not agree with the proposal, describing it as a waste of time and money. Councillor Stan Williams also expressed concerns about the seafront already being overcrowded.
Councillor Scowen said they needed to think “outside the box, in this case the chip/burger box”.
“I can see real merit in this and it will be a great talking point and good PR for the town,” he added.
The council agreed to go ahead with the project in principle if a suitable location for the sculptures could be found.
In the meantime, Councillor Belinda Bawden questioned what could be done about the overflowing bins and Councillor Kelsey Ellis suggested they needed more, as people left rubbish next to overflowing bins.
Town clerk John Wright assured members that the council was working very hard with Dorset Waste Partnership to ensure that the bins were regularly collected.
The council also employed someone to sweep up the seafront.