IT was the late Victor Homyer – fisherman, councillor and former mayor – who described the seafront and beach area as “Lyme’s shop window”. And he wasn’t wrong.
Lyme’s tiny streets have a quaintness admired by many – but it is to the Marine Parade and Cobb that the masses flock.
We are fortunate also to have two other beaches – Church Beach (Back Beach to us locals) and Monmouth Beach – for those who prefer a bit of peace and quiet. A perfect solution to cater for all.
Lyme is also fortunate to have one of the safest beaches along the south coast and in recent times a joint effort by Lyme Regis Town Council and Dorset Council to keep the parade and beach in pristine condition has won many plaudits.
To date this summer, however, Lyme’s main beach is not looking in such fine fettle, as was pointed out to me by at least three traders when I went for a stroll along the prom before escaping to London for the weekend to see my granddaughters.
When I was mayor (here he goes again!), I was given a bit of good advice by a former First Citizen – never go west of the Marine Parade clock if you want to avoid the wrath of those with business interests down the West End, especially during the summer months when tempers tend to get frayed more often.
As I gingerly passed one popular attraction, hoping not to be recognised, I was suddenly harangued (maybe that’s a bit strong) by someone who has spent many a summer earning a crust on the seafront.
“Oi, can’t your paper do something about this bloody beach? It’s a bloody disgrace.”
“Write to the council,” I shouted back.
“No bloody good, they never reply,” came the retort.
“Ok then, I’ll write to them and see what reply I get.”
“Good luck with that,” says he with just a hint of sarcasm.
I spoke to others. The big complaint is the state of the beach. In past, non-epidemic summers, the beach is re-profiled after a bashing by the winter storms and swept several times a week by the town council tractor.
Early in the morning it always looks in perfect condition as Lyme wakes up to another manic day, as the visitors arrive early to book their spaces having driven around town eight times to find a parking space, sometimes even before the shops are open.
So I contacted the council to see what had changed this year and got an immediate response from the Mayor, Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE.
He said: “The beach profiling is undertaken by Dorset Council, organised through the harbourmaster. This was done earlier this year but subsequent storms left the beach un-level again.
“The town council tractor could not access the beach while the profiling work was required and the harbourmaster organised further profiling last week.
“Normal beach cleaning will commence from Friday, and on three mornings a week, as normal for this time of year. This is increased to a daily service in the six weeks of summer.”
The town has quietened down a bit after the Bank Holiday, as always, and the council now has the chance to sort out these and others issues the traders have before the three key holiday months.
There is no doubt that Lyme is in for a bumper year – some businesses reported their best ever week during half-term.
If the council takes my advice, which they won’t, I would invite a couple of traders to sit on the tourism committee as ex-officio members in a bid to build a relationship with our elected representatives, assuming the committee is going to meet more often than it has during the pandemic.
It’s been done before, not with a great deal of success, but these are different times and I think it could be beneficial for both sides.