AS Christmas approaches and the New Year beckons, may I wish Lyme residents a happy and merry festive time.
It will be, for all us, a very different Christmas. Families and friends will not be able to meet indoors or out in quite the same traditional way Christmas would normally invite.
It does, however, represent a brief respite from the level of restrictions recently imposed by lockdown, before we learn more of what will be coming our way in the New Year and we return to the means to counter the effects of the virus.
And in this brief Christmas easing, could I please ask that we all remain responsible and respect the limits we have to presently live within.
The festive season is also a time of reflection of the past year, and this year has by any standards been unprecedented and challenging, and for those who’ve lost family members or suffered illness, it’s been both heart-breaking and threatening. Such has been 2020.
It has also been a year of depths; the depth of what we have had to face, and the depth of personal response we’ve all given to this unforgettable year. The collective response and determination to keep going, despite the virus and all that accompanies it, has been the kind of resolve that takes us into 2021.
2019 was a remarkably successful year and Lyme was on a real high as the town and the council planned and delivered on so many fronts. Broad Street was full of scaffolding; businesses invested in all parts of the town, and the council lifted the levels of its contribution to raising the standard of Lyme as a destination of choice to live and visit.
There was so much going on and real visibility of Lyme being ‘on the up’. 2020 followed and COVID-19 arrived in our world with all that accompanied it.
It became practically all consuming, so much so that it is easy to forget just what was achieved in 2019 – much of which helped the sustainability of the year that was to follow.
It has required a great deal of personal time and effort to get through the past year with fundamental questions of all we do and value. Everyone has focussed on this, and the result of this and the previous year, has the council in a better position than would have been.
It has created a position with every reason to be optimistic for 2021. The finances are at a good level despite the early year impact of COVID; the measures we’ve taken are sound and, while we must remain cautious in our plans, carefully manage our commitments and look to ongoing efficiencies, the next few years will see the council’s position better placed for subsequent years.
We’ve done a considerable number of things in the last two years, amongst them we had the essential but monumental cost of the ‘once in a generation’ seafront shelters roof resurfacing; we’ve worked hard to improve and raise the standards of the Langmoor Gardens and the cemetery – and both are looking better than ever; we’ve installed extensive feature lighting in an otherwise dull and under-used woodland walk area at the top of the gardens; we’ve put in place a long expanse of seafront benches – that became an instant successful feature of the length of the parade and the unique pedestrian area it is; we’ve raised the level of seafront and beach cleaning and waste collection; we’ve redesigned and refurbished the seafront toilets; we’ve replenished our stock of beach huts; we’ve continued to maintain a substantial level of support to local clubs, groups and societies – and given a level of grants that remains in total significantly higher than other towns across Dorset; we’ve invested in the maintenance of our assets and the listed Guildhall, and importantly we’ve raised our dialogue and relationship with others in Dorset and the surrounding area.
This is but a snapshot of the sizeable and more visible things we’ve done in the last two years; there has also been a significant range of other less obvious areas of effort and support, and measures that enables some room to continue to deliver on many of the things we are aiming to complete over the remaining life of the present council. 2019 and 2020 have been two contrasting and remarkable years.
If COVID has done anything it has required us to re-evaluate plans and priorities, our spend, and the way we do things – all of which has to be an ongoing habit whatever the social, health or economic climate we live within.
We can be aspirational and we have to be pragmatic; we can be ambitious and we have to be realistic; we can set targets and we have to deliver, and finally we can commit and we have to be adaptable.
It’s as true for government as it is for principal authorities, and as true for us as a council as it is for us as individuals.
We’ve done remarkably well in Lyme and we’ve reason to feel more fortunate than others. It hasn’t been easy but there is now a better prospect ahead of us because of the efforts made throughout 2020 by everyone.
So, may I ask that you celebrate the year ending with a degree of optimism and with the responsibility COVID still demands of us, and in doing so respect and maintain the physical distancing required but cherish the closeness of those around us that this year has encouraged us to value.
The Mayor of Lyme Regis,
Cllr Brian Larcombe MBE