LYME Regis Town Council has had a fractious relationship with the hospitality trade in Lyme Regis for many years.
Long-standing disputes over land issues and al fresco dining areas has soured discussions for too long.
So it was good to see council members at Wednesday’s meeting of the Town Management Committee ease the restrictions they have maintained to keep Lyme’s recreational areas as free as possible from commercial expansion.
Not that they had much hope of refusing applications from three outlets to expand their outside dining, as the government has urged all councils to “do everything possible to help businesses to reopen again and prosper”.
Had these been normal times, with no interference from Whitehall, it might well have been a different matter. Councilors knew there was no point putting up any resistance.
Top chef Mark Hix asked for permission to extend his outside eating facilities at his popular Oyster & Fish House in Lister Gardens by utilising adjacent land below the restaurant’s terrace with additional tables under a sail-type structure.
Mr Hix asked for temporary permission until June when he can open his restaurant fully, but would like to discuss using the area on a more permanent nature in the future.
SWIM restaurant and bar on the seafront also has an outside dining area on its raised verandah but asked for permission for ten extra tables for two to be placed on Marine Parade, backing onto the frontage of their premises.
The third application came from the Red Panda Asian takeaway on Bell Cliff, for two tables and chairs outside their property.
Mr Hix’s temporary permission was granted by the council and following concerns about the number of tables and social distancing on Marine Parade and Bell Cliff, council officers were instructed to work out final details with approval in principal from councillors.
It is only right the town council should be doing all it can to support local businesses at this time which will help to protect jobs, many of which have been lost in the last year.
The only councillor to vote against these proposals was veteran Stan Williams, who throughout his 60 years in local government has fought tooth and nail to try and keep Lyme’s seafront and garden areas free from commercialisation.
It will take more than government advice to get him to change his view.
Jack and Sally’s card from Her Maj
THIS was going to be a very special year for my good friends Jack and Sally Caddy.
As well as Jack celebrating his 87th birthday, the big occasion for their family would be Jack and Sal’s diamond wedding anniversary.
The couple’s two sons, Lee and Russell, have been keeping a close eye on their parents through lockdown, ensuring they were coping well, but they will have been disappointed that they were not able to celebrate such an important milestone – 60 years of marriage – surrounded by family and friends.
So it was doubly pleasing to see that Jack and Sal received a congratulations card from Her Majesty the Queen.
Had there been a party and I was invited, I would have told the story of how I thought Jack had seriously injured a thug from Chard who tried to gatecrash a disco the Regatta and Carnival Committee held in a marquee on top of the Marine Parade shelters in the 1970s.
Jack was assistant secretary of the regatta committee and looked after all the security issues that came to light when we were given permission to hold events in the marquee because the Marine Theatre was unavailable.
On this occasion, when DJ ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton was appearing at the disco before crowning Miss Lyme Regis the following day, we were warned by police that a gang of bikers were on the way to Lyme to cause mayhem at the disco.
In those days the old Marine Parade shelters and the new construction which houses the Amusement Arcade were linked by a narrow walkway.
Jack decided there was no way they would be admitted a stood at the entrance to the walkway with a baseball bat conveniently available.
In the ensuing struggle the gang leader ‘slipped’ off the walkway, falling a good 20 feet onto Marine Parade.
For what seemed an age, the lad was motionless and I was thinking about calling an ambulance when he suddenly sprung to his feet and sprinted away. Amazingly, his mates turned tail and disappeared very quickly and we never saw anything of them again.
We had in excess of 500 revellers inside the marquee that night when David Hamilton arrived. He said he was a little anxious about walking through the crowd to the stage area, fearing he would get mocked.
“Not to worry,” said Jack. And the two of us picked him under the arms and frogmarched him to the front with his the girlfriend, Page Three Girl and judge’s daughter Kathy McKinnon, who, as you can imagine, was very popular with the local boys.
Happy days Jack.
Ready and waiting for my first summertime grandad duties
I CAN’T wait for the summer months. That time when grandparents play host to their offspring’s children and you see them struggling along the seafront at the end of a hot day, laden with bucket and spades, sunbeds-et all and with that harassed look, anxious to get them home fed and settled down with a bedtime story before opening that bottle of merlot!
I’ve been waiting for being that harassed granddad for several years and, hopefully, our two granddaughters from London will be staying with us (the first time without mum and dad) during Regatta and Carnival week.
I was talking to a friend of mind about how much I was looking forward to playing the granddad role and he said: “You’ll never cope. You will be shattered after two days.”
Due to my unhealthy ambition to make a name for myself in the world of newspapers, and to my eternal discredit, I missed a great deal of my children’s growing up.
There’s not a day that passes that I don’t regret not being more a part of their lives during those formative years and I swore that I would make sure I saw more of my grandkids when the time came.
Alas, it didn’t quite work out that way. That ambitious streak never really went away and my grandchildren are growing up in London where my son and his partner have big jobs and a busy lives.
When life was normal we would see them two or three times a year in Lyme with a couple of weekend visits to London and always marvelled at how much they had grown.
Lockdown has been particularly difficult for all grandparents, but we have kept in touch every week thanks to the marvels of technology with a FaceTime call every Sunday.
And how delighted we were when, on a recent call, the kids – Ella, 6, and Freya, 4 – were excited to tell us they were coming to stay with us without mummy and daddy. It was the best news for me.
I write regularly to my eldest granddaughter who is already a voracious reader in the hope she will keep the letters and will have some fond happy memories of me when she is older.
I immediately wrote to Ella listing the things that I thought we could do on their visit and suggested Regatta Week because there is so much to do for families.As I write this I am expecting a reply any day.
Having organised the Regatta and Carnival for ten years in the 1970s, I am a big fan of the annual family-fun-fest and I am hoping we can create some memories that will resonate and bring them back to Lyme throughout their lives.
I still meet people during the summer who say they remember me when I ran the regatta events all those years ago when they were children, and now they are bringing their own grandchildren to Lyme during regatta week every year.
Being a grandparent has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of my life.
I know people joke about the best thing about being a grandparent is being able to give the kids back at the end of the day. My problem will be that I will want to keep them!