Ask the Mayor: Your questions answered

Councillor Brian Larcombe

WITH all meetings of Lyme Regis Town Council being suspended due to coronavirus, the Mayor, Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE, has agreed to answer questions that we will put to him on your behalf and we will then publish his responses.

Send in your questions for our next issue by emailing with the subject ‘Ask The Mayor’.

DO you have a plan for the council staff to return to work? Also, have you considered staging virtual council meetings? If they can do it parliament with 600 members, surely you can do it with 14? It would also be a good way of showing the public what council meetings are like and encourage more people to come to your meetings and get a better understanding of what the council does.

There will naturally be a point when the virus and an easing of restrictions enable a return to something more like normality; quite when that is or whether phased and to what level is a matter for government to determine. The ability to hold meetings or public gatherings will be a matter of our council being told by government when we can.

There is a level of council business which is continuing but as has been previously stated, it is much lower than normal and many of the things we would normally do is in suspension – hence the reason for some of the council staff being furloughed. The reduced level of activity also means there is nothing at present of real consequence that warrants council members’ decisions. However, members are kept informed on a daily basis of anything of substance and they can and do express their views of it.

I’ve discussed the potential for virtual meetings with the clerk and we both took part in a DAPT facilitating exercise a couple of days ago, along with councillors from other places, to understand aspects of its use in a council – public meeting, should the need arise. However, moving to virtual meetings is something that will depend on the continued length of lockdown and the kind of matters that may arise, and in the event the public will be able attend.

At present there is no need to hold virtual meetings for the reasons I’ve previously outlined.

I READ in LymeOnline that Dorset Council workers will removing the weeds from Marine Parade this week. I believe the council employs a lengthsman but some of Lyme’s smaller roads are in a dreadful state. Does the lengthsman spend 100 per cent of his time making these roads look tidier because there is not much evidence of this and are there are plans after lockdown for this work to be carried out?

Lengthsmen are by historic definition staff who maintained footpaths and highways ‘along the length’ of an approach to a town. Dorset Council is the highways authority and are responsible for maintaining roads, verges and highways. We naturally want Lyme to continue to be maintained to the level we all want to see, and to a very large extent it is.

Prior to the virus outbreak, we were looking at an arrangement with Dorset where we could potentially undertake some supportive work, e.g. highways verges and potholes etc. by agreement. This arrangement is not able to be progressed at present because of current restrictions. It must be said, however, that the current state of Lyme’s highways is comparatively very good, much better than many other places, largely because we were very fortunate to have had practically the whole town’s roads resurfaced in the last two years.

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