THE Mayor of Lyme Regis has called for “faith, hope and tolerance” as the town is eased out of lockdown.
Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE has issued a statement to residents and business owners, asking them to “have faith in the town” and try to look beyond the present situation.
As the government begins to ease its lockdown restrictions, implemented in March to tackle the spread of COVID-19, the mayor says this presents a width of needs and challenges for the town, as it balances health and wellbeing with the need to secure its future sustainability.
Councillor Larcombe said this is made more difficult by Lyme’s heavy dependence on tourism, adding that the wellbeing of residents is the “uppermost” concern.
He has called for “level heads” and respect for others as they deal with different aspects of the virus.
Lyme Regis has slowly started to ease out of lockdown, with some car parks and public toilets opening over the weekend.
This sparked concerns among some residents that the town would see an influx of visitors, but while beaches were busier than they have been in recent weeks, the crowds were nowhere near the size of those seen on a usual sunny Bank Holiday.
Non-essential shops are now expected to reopen from June 15 and some pubs and restaurants will be able to open from July 1, unless government guidelines are changed to address the infection rate.
Some business owners have called for more clarity from the government on how they can reopen safely, and Lyme Bay Holidays – the town’s biggest holiday letting company – has called for businesses to work on a joined up approach as the town moves forward.
In his statement, the mayor said: “As a town and council, we are all trying to live within a situation that presents a width of needs, from individual health to collective well- being, and to present and future local sustainability.
“The virus and the government’s announcements concerning it have to be respected, and much as it is difficult to determine how we manage the consequence of one and the application of the other, we also have to think carefully of what we do in the here-and-now, while also paying regard to the mid-term consequences as well (it feels a bit like a quadratic equation of school days!).
“There are challenges in this, all the more so because of the heavy dependence Lyme has on visitors for business and employment, and the kind of support the income generated provides for the town’s upkeep and local resident organisations.
“Uppermost, however, is the health and well-being of residents, and while there is so much unknown of the virus and the speed of any remedy, the one thing we do know is the here-and-now within which we consider the effect of what we are ‘required’ to do and what we can ‘choose’ to do, and the possible impact of both further down the road.
“The government has announced a phasing approach in the easing of measures and we will look to apply these with close regard for the width of different interests and concerns. ‘You can’t please everyone,’ as they say, and while we can exercise local discretion within our remit we cannot act entirely in isolation, and there are many things beyond the town council’s gift.
“However, we will continue to do what we can, as best we can, in response to the situation presented, in the interests of the town, it’s people and its sustainability.
“It’s a time for level heads, and for businesses who are presently struggling – and I don’t under estimate how much it is asking of them – to have faith in the town, to get through this period and try to look beyond the present. Next year could likely see a boom in UK stay holidays, and all being well it will be.
“All of this depends on developments beyond our control, but what we will do is continue to influence and help support residents and businesses in Lyme to get through this period and into next spring. Hopefully by then, if not before, the situation will have become better for everyone, in as wide a sphere as possible.
“I simply ask that people continue to respect others and the different aspects of this virus they may be having to deal with. There’s a need for perspective, whether in the same house, the same street, the same town, or the same broader UK. We’re a relatively small island.
“The effects of COVID-19 will be with us all in a range of different ways for a long time. Some things will not go back entirely as before; it will present some elements of a new norm we will adjust to. I don’t like the expression ‘glass half full or half empty’ but I do remain optimistic that if all energies are given to recognising all angles of the problem, we’re more likely to find a means to either live with it or very hopefully eradicate it.
“Although some government announcements appear a bit ambiguous and at times may even seem contradictory, we have to interpret what it all means both personally and collectively – we have an individual and collective responsibility to do so.
“Hopefully, in the not too distant future we’ll be able to look back and see that we acted sensibly and responsibly, at this time, as individuals and a town. And while some things will have changed, we may also have rediscovered one or two things that we had come to take for granted.”