THERE are so many awards around these days, it’s difficult to take them seriously. If somebody reads an article in a magazine stating that Lyme Regis serves the best fish and chips in the West Country, does anyone actually respond by saying: “Oh good, let’s go there this weekend?”
But it’s nice to be recognised in any sphere of life and when the survey is carried out by the much relied upon ‘Which?’ consumer magazine, I think people do sit up and take notice.
Which brings me to the news this week that Lyme Regis has been placed in 21st position out of 105 best seaside towns in the UK with an overall rating of 77 per cent. Good but could do better, one might well say.
The survey of a sample of 3,750 potential holidaymakers revealed that the average cost of an hotel room in Lyme is £135. For our beach we were rated 4/5; for attractions 4/5; scenery 5/5; peace and quiet 3/5; value for money 4/5. Lyme was beaten by the fishing village of Beer, placed in a creditable tenth place, and snooty Sidmouth in 18th spot.
The survey was carried out before lockdown (I’m not sure how long before) and it seems we were marked down a bit by only scoring a three of out five for peace and quiet. Note we scored 5/5 for scenery.
Now that will be interesting to a number of people in Lyme. A question is often asked: does Lyme really have a brand? Are we a “kiss me quick” resort, or do people come to what was previously known as the “Pearl of Dorset “for our sheer beauty and peace and quiet?
I suppose the answer to that is: both. For the two prime months of July and August, during which the two main attractions – Lifeboat Week and the Regatta and Carnival (not this year, of course) are held – Lyme is always going to be a bucket and spade resort because of the safety of our beach and abundance of eating out and takeaway outlets.
In the shoulder months, Lyme is the favourite destination for those who love a stroll along the prom and a peaceful siesta in the gardens.
And isn’t that the charm of the place, that we appeal to both? Do we have to be one or the other.
Lyme’s reduced summer season is building quite nicely and an Indian summer might just provide some compensation for those lost early weeks.
Security guards on the front – who saw that coming?
NO one would ever imagine that one day we would see security guards patrolling the seafront and public gardens in Lyme Regis – but such has been the amount of anti-social behaviour, drunkenness and drug taking in the town’s open space, I don’t think the council had any other choice.
The council, and the Mayor Brian Larcombe in particular, have been inundated with complaints about the noise coming from groups of young people in the gardens, sometimes well into the early hours of the morning. The problem became so bad that one resident moved out of their seafront home in a bid to get a good night’s sleep.
The police did step up their late-night patrols in Lyme but whether we like it or not, Lyme is never going to get the police coverage that we think the town requires.
The town council is doing everything it can at the moment to avoid unnecessary expenditure with a severe decline in their reserves caused by the coronavirus, but they have been forced to spend £10,080 for security guards to patrol the Marine Parade and gardens for the next prime-time eight weeks.
There has always been a bit of rowdy behaviour in the gardens, especially in the early summer, but few can remember it being so bad as has been experienced this year.
And it’s not all local kids with reports of yobs descending on the town from outside the area. Had it continued for much longer there were rumours of a vigilante group being formed and that could have ended in disaster.
LymeOnline – back in the old routine
ALTHOUGH we continued to work right through the lockdown period, keeping the LymeOnline website up to date and producing a digital version of the paper, life has been very different these past few months, as it has for us all.
Some of our readers who are not au fait with this digital age told us how much they missed the paper so we produced a printed abridged version called LymeOnline Extra containing all the main news stories and delivered it to their doors for a minimal subscription fee.
But now we are virtually back in the old routine and we are looking forward to the return of our full printed version on Friday, August 7.
Our last edition was at the end of March, just before lockdown, and contained one of best advertising totals since our launch two years ago.
With no printed paper we immediately lost 90 per cent of our advertising revenue and 50 per cent of our sponsorship. It’s too soon so say how many advertisers will return for our August 7 issue as every business is looking to save money.
It’s been quite a challenge filling our digital edition with no council meetings or local events taking place, but Lyme is slowly returning to somewhere near normality, so fingers crossed.
With no fossil festival, jazz festival, Lifeboat Week and Regatta and Carnival this summer, we have had to rely on more feature material to fill our columns. To keep the wolf from the door, we have taken on some additional editorial duties during lockdown, having been appointed editorial content providers for new websites in Axminster and Seaton, two of a network of more than 40 sites all over the country called Nub News.
The man behind this project is Lyme Regis Golf Club member Karl Hancock, a former City of London banker who lives at Branscombe who is passionate about the importance of local news.
This has meant me returning to full-time employment but I am enjoying it immensely, back in my old East Devon patch reporting all the news. So it is our intention to keep doing this as well as running LymeOnline.
The current crisis meant we have had to abandon our popular quarterly magazine Lyme Life through the summer months, but we are planning to bring it back with a bumper Christmas edition and to continue publishing it next year when we also hope to introduce one more publication which will focus on Lyme’s burgeoning foodie reputation.
There will be one change to the LymeOnline operation when the printed version returns next month. Until we know exactly how much advertising support we will win back, we have had to suspend the door-to-door delivery of the paper. Those roads covered by volunteers will continue to get their paper through the door and we will extend the number of pick-up points.
This gives me the opportunity to say thank you to the boys and girls who have been delivering LymeOnline to more than 2,000 homes in Lyme, Uplyme and Charmouth.
We sincerely hope we can use their services again if our adverting support returns to the level we were experiencing before we were forced to cease printing.