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 edit@lyme-online.co.uk with the subject ‘Ask The Mayor’.

I read in the national press that York is considering running a one way system in their narrow streets. We too have narrow streets around the Cobb. Has the council given any thoughts to how people might move along the promenade, Cart Road and past the huts? ​

We are naturally concerned about traffic congestion and Lyme’s narrow streets do present traffic flow problems, particularly in the summer: it’s a problem that has occupied council’s minds for decades as the volume and size of vehicles increases while the width of our roads can not.

However, with regard to the more specific thought being offered in the reader’s question regarding the Cart Road and its part in a Cobb one-way system: firstly as the name implies the Cart Road was originally for carts and secondly wasn’t a complete road from Cobb Gate to the Cobb – it used to end halfway along with a slope on to the beach, which covered at high tide. The promenade as referred to, is I would suggest, as the term implies, really for pedestrians.

And finally, I personally think the idea that the area in front of the beach huts which is essentially as pedestrian way should have vehicles driving along it is not appropriate or feasible and would change the whole nature of a seafront that is one of Lyme’s best features and sets our town aside from many others.

We own an apartment in Broad Street and normally divide our time between our home in North Dorset and Lyme Regis. Under the current lockdown we have been following advice to stay away from second homes. We clearly can’t use local facilities and no waste requires collection. ​Will Lyme Regis Town Council be considering a council tax rebate for owners who have been asked to stay away?

Lym​e Regis Town Council is not the council authority which collects or is responsible for your household waste collection, and does not charge for its removal. Dorset Council sets your Council Tax and the part the cost of waste collection contributes to it – as shown in the breakdown they provided in their billing announcement at the start of the Council Tax year. You should correspond with Dorset Council.

With the relaxing of lockdown measures expected to encourage many more people coming to Lyme, what will the town council be doing to stop unacceptable levels of people using the beach, etc?

Any easing of restrictions will bring with it increasing numbers of people looking to walk our seafront and beaches – particularly following the government’s announcement this week that people can now drive to parks and beaches, etc. and in our case Lyme’s tiny sandy patch. There is a world of difference between restriction easing being applied to this very small area and the vast beaches of the likes of Woolacombe and Croyde, Watergate and Fistral, Weymouth and Chesil beaches, to name but a few.

Even on a modest day our patch of sand gets significantly over-crowded and it will be almost impossible to respect the minimum two metre social-distancing stipulated by government, while other larger beaches will be able to accommodate it more easily. We have expressed this concern to Dorset Council and our local MP. We’re also looking to determine what measures will be brought in to support the government’s declaration on their easing towards open spaces.

We’re not alone in this; there are many small town beaches in Devon and Cornwall that will have the same problem. We will continue to press our concerns for this and other issues surrounding the practical application of government announcements.

With Boris Johnson easing the lockdown restrictions, there are fears that Lyme will be undated with day-trippers and the like, especially when the weather is fine. What actions are the town council taking to avoid this? A lot of residents are very worried. Do you not think it would be a good idea to put a barrier across the entrance to Cobb Gate car park? Are you able to call on the services of the police?

Firstly, we could not and would not put a barrier across Cobb Gate.

The whole subject of the recent announcement and its impact on Lyme and other places of local day-visit destination is something we are looking at carefully. The natural concerns people have for the virus is not restricted to Lyme, it is after all a pandemic. There are other towns who will be looking at the movement of people from other places, – even people from Lyme who may drive in the opposite direction within the same radius to benefit the services, supermarkets and other facilities they provide.

Recent government announcements on restriction easing were always going to be controversial particularly when made ahead of the kind of detail that allows us to fully understand the application of it locally and balancing the width of interests as far as we can, in what is a situation that changes almost daily.

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