THE below letter was read publicly at the annual meeting of Lyme Regis electors:
Perhaps what I may have brought to this meeting just a few days ago, may not be as appropriate due to the change of circumstances over the past couple of days.
I feel now this meeting should be dedicated to the hard work shown by a certain local chap over the past number of years, but especially the last three. I think we all know who that person is – Mr Brian Larcombe MBE.
Over the past couple of years the town council and the town as a whole has experienced situations and events that none of us would have ever expected. This has caused personal, financial and emotional distress to us all.
On top of this, during recent weeks, months and years, conflict has been going on, and yes, I am referring to distressingly, unnecessarily and worryingly at our local level. But, he has worked hard throughout this period, both in a public eye, but more importantly behind the scenes to get the best out of this town, for both the council and townspeople for future years to come.
This has been in such a way that it is highly unlikely that history will repeat itself in years to come. To match what work has been done will be extremely hard to follow, regardless of previous experience.
I would now like to mention, just a few projects, achievements, goals and future visions which have been achieved and completed during our outgoing mayor’s victorious reign:
- Accepting the offer of help from a professional gardener to address the poor state of Langmoor Gardens
- Langmoor Gardens now well-tended and future plans underway
- Football club stand and kitchen extension completed with grants from the council
- 36 beach huts and the disabled access hut replaced over a three-year cycle
- Supported and introduced the award winning Axminster & Lyme Cancer Support beach hut
- Additional benches installed on Marine Parade
- New unisex toilets opened on Marine parade
- Enhanced CCTV on Marine Parade
- Cemetery grounds maintenance overhauled, grounds now well-tended (big shout out, once again, to Alan Legg for all his hard work)
- Cemetery chapel repaired and internal decorations restored
- Tree planting in Anning Road, cemetery and Langmoor Gardens
- Repair and maintenance of the Guildhall, fixing the damp issue in the Mayor’s Parlour, repaired the roof, stonework, glass, repaired lead work and restored the original outside decoration of the building to its former glory
- Working extremely hard to gain permission to recess the oriel window in the Guildhall to prevent repeated damage to the building from vehicles and completing the installation of the window using a specialist building team to ensure a quality outcome
- Replacement of the old leaking roof over the amusement arcade/SWIM, always being outspoken with regards to issues and making sure legislation in place for years to come for its appropriate uses
- Woodland walkway developed further in top of Langmoor Gardens
- Coloured lighting installed in Woodland Walk in Langmoor Gardens
- Bowls club lease signed
- 70 Monmouth Beach chalets leases (security of tenure) all signed to guarantee on-going annual council income from leases
- The replacement of the rusting traditional Victorian seafront railings on a like-for-like basis to retain the character of the Marine Parade
- Regaining control of the land near the harbour master’s building for council use and got the ball rolling for reinstating use of harbour master’s store for control back in 2023 by town council
- Park and ride summer signage on A35 agreed with Highways England and installed to reduce summer traffic in the town
- Setting up and attending the Seaside Town Group regular meeting to network, share ideas and compare performance
- Actively contacting and linking up with inland towns/councils to share knowledge and ideas and compare performance
- Regular meetings with our MP Chris Loder and Dorset councillors to highlight and discuss the towns concerns
- Managing the changes to town council operations during COVID and adapting council working practices to deal with ongoing changes, always having a keen eye on making sure staff were working efficiently and within their key roles
- Declaring a climate emergency and working to improve the council’s approach
- Harbour Consultation Group set up to address safety issues particularly at the harbour mouth – mayor part of the committee
- Acting to improve the way that the councillors interact with each other and operate, particularly in respect of poor behaviour (let’s hope the saga doesn’t continue)
- Working on paying off the £247,000 loan from (West) Dorset Council saving £35,500 interest per year over the outstanding seven year term
- All town council employees now on employment contracts
- Bringing the town in to a healthy position for its 2022 finances with approximately £2million in the bank
- Warding off very worrying loan jargon supplied to councillors by certain officers… I wonder who said we’d be so well off?
- Working towards a Strawberry Fields project defined in Corporate Plan for 22/23 with a potential base for future park and ride/transport hub
As I’ve said, these are just a few highlights of the work of a brilliant figure head, which he has been, representing our town.
I know that he has been extremely honoured to represent our town as mayor and I’m sure he may have continued if certain attitudes had changed, unfortunately, this has yet to be seen.
To the remaining dignified, respectable few, we all watch and wait how long you can suffer under the questionable attitudes of others. You don’t have to put up with it.
So there we are, certainly a fulfilling chapter for our town, led by a Lyme worthy, in Brian, so as this chapter closes, the next one opens. Who knows what’s next – a fairytale ending, romantic comedy or most predictably just an average drama. You decided on the genre.
But most importantly, please join with me to say one big thank you to Cllr Brian Larcombe!
It has been a huge pleasure to work closely alongside you as an ‘eye from the outside’ over the past three years of being Mayor of Lyme Regis.
I look forward to working with the mayors of the future who are willing to hear what I have to say about our wonderful town, to improve it, maintain it and always strive to remain the pearl of Dorset.
Talbot Road, Lyme Regis