I’ll take my wellies next time I cover Uplyme Parish Council!

Bridport fire crew, pictured wading through the flooded River Char, were among emergency services out until the early hours last Wednesday night

I’VE covered countless council and public meetings in village halls, community rooms, theatres, churches, and the slightly grander guildhalls over the years.

During lockdown I even covered one outside in a car park, and plenty of virtual meetings via Zoom. But last week was the first time I had to wade out of a meeting!

With fears over the future of Uplyme garage, village shop and post office the hot topic of the moment, I headed out last Wednesday evening to cover a parish council meeting where it was top of the agenda.

When I arrived at Uplyme Village Hall the river was already raging and puddles were pooling in the car park, but I didn’t think much of it. After all, the rain seemed to be leaving off.

How wrong was I?

Midway through the meeting it started coming down so hard that it was difficult to hear the debate over the sound of the rain hitting the roof.

Volunteer flood wardens John Fowler and James Booth, who were both sat in the public forum, quickly sprung into action, dashing in and out of the hall in their hi-vis jackets and with various brooms in hand.

I wasn’t 100 per cent convinced as they tried to assure councillors “everything’s fine”, but I was still shocked when I eventually left to find a torrent of water running through the car park.

Some weren’t too fussed about getting their feet wet and quickly dashed out to their cars, but I had – perhaps rather stupidly – parked in the ‘overflow’ car park (no pun intended!) at the back of the hall, the driveway to which runs right alongside the river and was now well underwater.

After a few minutes of panic and dreading what would have been a very damp walk home, one of the council’s newest members, Pete Hackett, came to my rescue.

He showed me to the back door of the hall and helped me to climb – rather ungracefully – over its flood defence gate, plopping my very non-waterproof boots into a deep puddle on the other side. Needless to say I was not dressed for the occasion.

Never mind! I was just thankful I had parked my little Smart Car on a slight slope and it had avoided the worst of the water.

I jumped in and was waved out of a gate onto the main road through the village – the river quickly spilling onto it – by volunteers John and James, who I am told stayed out until the early hours of the morning in torrential rain to help their neighbours. Community spirit at its best!

Back home I couldn’t help but think of them and all the emergency services, called out to help others. I also stayed up until the early hours of the morning, reporting as much flood information as I could on our websites, but at least I was able to do that from the comfort of my own bed.

I don’t often get out to Uplyme Parish Council meetings as they regularly clash with those of the town council here in Lyme Regis, but I think next time I’ll take my wellies, just in case!

The Pilot BoatTHE PLACE TO BE:

AS winter nights set in, The Pilot Boat in Lyme Regis is returning to its regular programme of events that proved popular before the coronavirus pandemic. Cocktail Wednesdays, Fizzy Fridays, quiz nights and Sunday roasts are on the menu, and it won’t be long before festive fayre will be offered.

SwimEVENT YOU CAN’T MISS:

FOR the first time in two years, live music and bar service will be returning to SWIM on Lyme Regis seafront. DJ Monoke will be bringing revellers a mix of house and disco for this over 18s events kicking off at 9pm on Saturday, October 30. Halloween fancy dress is encouraged! Find more local events here.

riverIF YOU READ ONE THING:

SEWAGE has really kicked up a stink in the national press over the past week, and so many LymeOnline readers have been in touch with their concerns about pollution in the River Lim. You can find the latest figures for sewage overspills and how Turn Lyme Green here.

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