A LOCAL businessman has said the town council office is “letting the people of Lyme Regis down” after failing to address health and safety concerns he first raised last year.
Former town and district councillor George Symonds, who owns Lyme Regis Amusement Arcade on Marine Parade, expressed concerns about hazards on the seafront over the busy Bank Holiday weekend.
Speaking at Wednesday night’s meeting, Mr Symonds complained that the entrance to his business had been blocked over the Bank Holiday weekend by vehicles of the contractor carrying out refurbishment work to the seafront toilets.
He also expressed health and safety concerns about a marquee being erected above the arcade for the Fossil Festival. During a different event last year when a similar marquee was erected, Mr Symonds witnessed a six-foot metal pole roll off the roof area onto the seafront below, where it “missed a member of the public by inches”.
He said he had raised health and safety concerns with the council at the time, and suggested all marquees set up on the roof area should be set back from the edge.
Mr Symonds also complained that the marquee was then taken down during the busy Bank Holiday Monday, with vehicles parked on the seafront for most of the day for the work, which he said was dangerous.
He said he had previously requested a review of the council office and its health and safety policies.
Mr Symonds added: “Lyme Regis Town Council has a duty of care when events are held on its land…
“The council office is letting the mayor down, it’s letting the people of Lyme Regis down and it’s letting businesses down. Nothing is being done to address these problems. I asked you to have an urgent review of the office before somebody is killed.”
He added that he felt he was “wasting his time” in bringing his concerns to the council.
The Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Michaela Ellis, said the council would follow up his concerns and she agreed that they needed to look at the way events were run on the seafront.
Speaking later in the meeting, Councillor Stan Williams said council members should have more say in what events take place on the seafront, rather than delegating this to officers.
“If there are vehicles on the front, they obviously haven’t been given proper instructions,” he said.
He added that councillors “didn’t know anything” about events taking place and there had been mix-ups with more than one event booked at the same time.
Councillor Cheryl Reynolds argued that there had only been one mistake with a double booking, which had since been solved, and that the council could not “micro-manage” the officers.
“We have to trust our officers to book events,” she added.
The town clerk John Wright suggested that a revised policy and procedure for events organisation and management be brought to the council for consideration.
Councillor Ellis added that it was important to ensure event organisers complied with the policies and procedures, commenting: “If people are not complying with that policy at events, like the marquee being taken down on Monday with vehicles everywhere, then we go back to them and say ‘next year you might not be here’.
“If we are allowing people to hold these events, they have to do what we need them to do.”
Referring to the issue of marquees on the roof above the amusement arcade, Councillor Brian Larcombe said the incident of the metal pole falling down was “horrendous” and called for marquees to be set back from the edge.
“I don’t wish to hear or read that there’s been an unfortunate incident because we haven’t sorted it,” he added.
Councillor Ellis said the council was also trying to source some kind of fencing to go around the railings when events are held in that area.