I WAS pleased that Lyme Regis Town Council has decided to make their longest serving member, Cllr Stan Williams, an Honourary Freeman of the Town.
This is a rare and much deserved honour for someone who has served this town for no less than 52 years. It is a record unlikely ever to be beaten.
Only one other person holds such an honour – former town crier Phil Street.
Stan, 86, born and bred in the town, first joined the old Borough Council in May 1969 in one of the most hotly contested local elections when more than half of the electorate in Lyme turned out to vote. Today, that figure is rarely about 40 per cent.
Stan came second to former Broad Street businessman Alec Richards, who topped the poll with 893 votes compared to Stan’s 637. Elected alongside him were Margaret Sykes, Henry Chessell and Squadron Leader L.A. Childs, who owned the Mariners Hotel.
Henry Chessell, who wrote a history book on Lyme, went on to become mayor on four occasions.
One unsuccessful candidate in that election was no other than Lyme’s most popular publican, Joe O’Donnell, who polled 339 votes.
Among Stan’s most treasured personal effects is a letter from the then town clerk, Harry Williams, offering him his “most sincere” congratulations on his election and expressing the hope that he would “enjoy the work”.
I think it’s fair to say that Stan has certainly enjoyed his 52 years as a councillor, and especially the two years he was mayor (1997 and 1998).
During all those years Stan has never courted popularity, either inside the Guildhall or in the community. He has always been a combative debater in the council chamber, but few can deny his passion for his hometown.
I understand that the decision to confer the Freedom of the Town on him was unanimously backed by all councillors. I am pleased to hear that because Stan will readily admit he has few friends among his fellow councillors.
When I was mayor in 1984 the town council had very little money. We could not even afford to pay for staff over a Bank Holiday.
I remember going down to Monmouth Beach early on a Good Friday Morning and Stan was on his hands and knees painting the white lines in the car park.
His greatest contribution will be his focus on building revenues from Lyme’s seafront undertakings as chairman of the old Recreations Committee for many years.
When Stan heard this week he was receiving the honour, he said it was the best thing that had happened to him in his life.
When the mayor turned up to tell him, he automatically thought he was “in trouble”. Trouble? Stanley? Never!
Lyme gets ready for bumper summer season
WITH the weather forecasters saying it would be a sunny weekend, Lyme Regis traders were expecting a bumper Bank Holiday weekend. It’s been a long time coming and they weren’t disappointed!
Actually, I’ve been told that since the relaxation of the COVID restrictions, allowing outdoor hospitality, trade has been was much better than many expected. And since May 17 when pubs, cafes and restaurants have been allowed to welcome customers inside their premises, the response has been very positive.
In fact, one trader told me that last Saturday had been busier than a usual Saturday in August and that forward bookings had been very encouraging.
Most places serving food and drink, however, are all looking for staff. It seems that many of those working in hospitality who were furloughed don’t want to return to their former jobs.
The lack of staff has been a serious issue, especially as this half term is likely to be manic.
Parking is also going to be a major issue, not just the loss of a few spaces in Broad Street, which affects locals more than visitors, but the hike in fees to park in the Dorset Council run car parks, now £8 per day.
There were also fears that the park and ride scheme, operated by Lyme Regis Town Council, might be under threat. The news here is that the town council has decided top operate the Charmouth Road park and ride from July 24 to September 5.
So why did they leave that decision for so long? The answer is simple and sensible. They wanted to leave it as long as possible to see how the COVID restrictions would pan out before committing the council to a considerable outlay.
There was also some concern about whether people visiting the town would want to travel on packed double-decker buses in the light of the pandemic.
The council is talking of laying on two to three double-deckers, on a daily basis, but it’s a costly operation and I understand they have to underwrite any loss the bus company incurs.
The town council has recovered well from the losses incurred through the pandemic and they are well placed to rebuild their reserves. especially with a bumper summer ahead.
This weekend saw the first of Lyme’s summer festivals – Jazz Jurassica – which was based in and around the Marine Theatre and not along the seafront due to COVID restrictions.
The Lifeboat Guild and the Regatta & Carnival Committee are already at work planning their annual fun weeks and providing there are no further setbacks caused by COVID, there is every reason for us to believe that Lyme will be very much back to normal this summer.
Give thanks that we live in an area where COVID has not wreaked such despair as in many parts of this country. And let’s all vow to enjoy our summer.
Simply the best!
A FEW words to say thank you to those of you who contacted us to say how pleased you were to see LymeOnline back in print. One reader even wrote to us saying they thought it was our best issue to date.
We had to up the number of pages from 24 to 32 to accommodate all the news, features, photographs and advertisements and we were very excited to be back on the streets.
I would also like to thank our team of volunteers who deliver the newspaper to many of the streets in Lyme.
We had to abandon our door-to-door service before lockdown due to rising costs and appealed for volunteers to deliver to the areas in which they live.
LymeOnline is a unique concept, it being a 24/7 website and a free community newspaper.
Coupled with our digital edition, which allows ex-pats to keep in touch with their home town, and our Friday video news bulletin, I think it’s very doubtful whether any other town with such a small population has a better or more comprehensive news service.