Hospitality closures deeply damaging to local economy

chris loderTHE Prime Minister has set out the government’s new three-tiered system of local COVID-19 alert levels for England.

Although we have seen an increase in cases in Dorset recently, it is low compared to the national situation, and West Dorset is in the lowest ‘medium’ tier. For Lyme Regis, that means the ‘Rule of Six’ still applies and that pubs and restaurants may not stay open beyond 10pm.

Last Tuesday evening I spoke in the House of Commons on Public Health and Coronavirus Regulations and, while acknowledging the difficult line the government must tread between public health and the economy, I made it clear to the minister that closing hospitality venues at 10pm is deeply damaging to our local economy, especially for village pubs and breweries, given the comparatively low number of cases we have here.

Lyme Regis has recently welcomed new pubs and restaurants opening and I’m keen to support them, as well as those who have served communities in Lyme for many years and who are finding the current restrictions extremely difficult.

Last Tuesday also, it was good to see the future of the RNLI being debated in Westminster, particularly in light of the challenges faced by lifeboat stations as a result of the pandemic.

In March, just a couple of weeks before lockdown, I was fortunate to meet up with our own RNLI crew at Lyme Regis, to learn more about how they work in tough emergency situations and to thank them for being there for our communities, and visitors to the area, in all weathers.

Of course, with the cancellation of Lifeboat Week, and a fundraising loss of some £40k, they need our support even more at this time.

This week the Culture Secretary announced unprecedented support for jobs in West Dorset’s culture, heritage and arts sectors through the Culture Recovery Fund. Government is listening to our needs here and eight local organisations and venues are set to share funding of £670k.

I’m particularly pleased that Lyme Regis Museum, as it approaches its 100th birthday, and the Marine Theatre have been included with a £60,000 grant.

I hope this will enable the museum and theatre, at the very heart of culture and heritage in Lyme Regis, to continue rebuilding its visitor numbers, as well as to grow the popularity of its fossil walks.

Other West Dorset museums being supported through grants include Dorset County Museum, The Shire Hall in Dorchester and Bridport Museum Trust.

Chris Loder 
West Dorset MP

Woodmead Halls
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