AS the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) extends daily, the council is doing all it can to maintain its services to the community.
In these extremely challenging times, our initial approach was to continue as normal for as long as we were able, while always following official guidance issued.
Further developments this week have meant we have taken some decisions to protect staff, councillors and visitors. It means changing the way we deliver some of our services and implementing precautionary measures where appropriate.
At the Strategy and Finance Committee meeting last Wednesday evening, some key decisions were made which will affect the way we operate.
At that meeting, we agreed to suspend all council meetings until further notice and the annual meeting of electors, scheduled to take place on 17 April, has been postponed. Legally, the meeting of electors must take place on or before 1 June and we will aim to re-arrange the meeting within that timescale, although this may be out of our hands.
We are also legally required to hold the annual meeting of the council in May each year so this is also under question.
We are not the only council is this position – every other local authority in the country has the same dilemma. National organisations are already in discussions with the government about emergency legislation to address these kinds of issues.
Although we will not be holding any council meetings, we still need to be able to make decisions and incur expenditure. The Strategy and Finance Committee this week put plans in place to allow decisions to be made by the town clerk in consultation with members. In the interests of transparency, all decisions made during this time will be recorded and made public.
We need to be mindful of our finances during these uncertain times, especially as a significant amount of our income comes from car parking, and we are adopting a cautious approach to protect our income.
As such, the council has decided to defer any capital projects which we aren’t contractually committed to, with the exception of the council office refurbishment which we can continue to progress as we are still in the very early stages.
The other key decision made this week was to cancel the park and ride service until the beginning of the school summer holidays, as we anticipate a drop in visitor numbers, although this can be reviewed if the situation changes.
Behind the scenes, office staff are preparing to work from home and we have been arranging the equipment and technology needed to do this effectively, so we can hopefully continue to provide our normal services. We will still be answering the phone during office hours and email addresses for all members and office staff are available on our website.
We’re making full use of our website and social media to provide updates from the council and other community groups so please keep an eye on those pages.
The amenities area in Lister Gardens (mini golf, table tennis, putting green) will be closed for the foreseeable future and staff there will be re-deployed on other duties.
The mayor has cancelled his civic night, due to take place on 4 April, and we are reviewing other major events with the organisers.
The situation can change hour-by-hour so we are continuously reviewing the guidance issued and responding to the needs of our staff, members and wider community.
In the weeks and months ahead we may be called upon to carry out more critical tasks and we will do all we can to help partner organisations to support the community.
One positive to come out of this crisis is the community spirit which has emerged. Lyme Regis has always had a compassionate and supportive community but it’s at times like these we see just how special this town and its people are.
Stay safe and we wish everyone well in these uncertain times.
Promoting responsible dog ownership
THE town council is advocating responsible dog ownership in Lyme Regis by signing up to a community-based scheme.
The Green Dog Walkers Scheme aims to change attitudes about dog fouling and encourages dog owners to act responsibly.
The initiative acts as a reminder to others that they need to pick up after their dog and keep them under control.
Dog walkers who sign up to the scheme make certain pledges in return for a badge to display on their clothing or dog lead, and a car window sticker.
Those signing the pledge agree to always clean up after their dog, to put the bag in a bin and to use a friendly approach to encourage other dog walkers to do the same.
We are now one of over 40 councils across the country to sign up to the scheme.
To further support this initiative, we have installed four new dog bag dispensers around the town. They are at Jericho, in the cemetery near the King’s Way entrance, at Monmouth Beach, and on Marine Parade railings near the sandy beach.
These are in addition to the dispenser which was already in place near the war memorial.
We’re also looking into whether there are enough bins to dispose of the bags and areas highlighted include the Church Cliff walkway, the River Lym path leading to Middle Mill, and Monmouth Beach.
Dog fouling is one of the issues most commonly raised with the council by residents so we hope by adopting this scheme and encouraging others to follow it, we can tackle the problem as a community.
Although we have enforcement officers who have authority to issue fines to people who do not pick up after their dog, we would always prefer to adopt a friendly and non-confrontational approach.
And just a reminder that Dorset Council’s public consultation on dogs in public places is still open and runs until April 19. The public are invited to have their say on where and when they think there should be restrictions on dogs in public places, also covering topics such as fouling and lead length.
The survey can be found at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Beach hut replacement continues
A FURTHER 12 new beach huts line the seafront as part of our three-year replacement programme.
We are replacing all 36 of our Cart Road huts with a new pitch-roof style, with the final 12 due to be replaced in 2021.
As last year, we sold the old huts for £50 each and were surprised to still have three left at the end of the day, considering the first 12 sold in less than 10 minutes last year!
One of the new huts will be used by Axminster and Lyme Cancer Support, who will make the hut available to anyone affected by cancer, allowing them to have a calm, peaceful rest by the sea.
The charity is funding the initiative after being awarded £5,000 of the Fossil Films grant, which was donated to the town following the filming of Ammonite.
Wedding stewards needed
WE have an exciting job opportunity at the council which offers great flexibility and enjoyment.
We are looking for a steward to facilitate weddings at the Guildhall. Stewards are on hand at civil ceremonies to ensure the day runs smoothly, with duties including preparing the room, welcoming guests and calming any last-minute nerves.
There is a small team of stewards and we would like one more person to join the team, but it is essential that person can work at weekends.
See the LymeOnline Jobs page for full details.
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