LYME Regis’ new mayor, locally-born Brian Larcombe MBE , has called on the public to give the new town council a chance to develop and be judged on its efforts in doing the best for the town.
After eight turbulent years in the council chamber, Councillor Larcombe is crucially aware that the council has to improve its image and come together in the best interests of all those in the town.
Councillor Larcombe took the mayoral chair at the first meeting of the new council in a three-way fight with outgoing mayor Michaela Ellis and Councillor Jeff Scowen.
The meeting ended in uproar as Councillor Cheryl Reynolds – who lost a bid to become deputy mayor to Councillor Scowen – resigned and walked out, saying she could not work with Councillors Larcombe or Scowen any longer.
In an exclusive article for LymeOnline (see below), Councillor Larcombe, who has 20 years experience of leading a parish council, expresses the view that in managing Lyme’s increasing popularity as a holiday resort, the council has to accept there is a limit to the number of visitors the town can attract, and they have to recognise the impact the seasonal numbers have on those living in the town.
Meet your new mayor
HAVING been elected First Citizen last week, the new Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Brian Larcombe MBE, introduces himself and outlines his future plans for the town council:
“Our family is very much a Lyme Regis family; we’ve been in the town for generations, it means a lot to us.
“I was born and grew up in Lyme and on leaving school at 18 I had, like many others did and still do, to leave Lyme to find work. It always amazes me just how many kids were born to Lyme families to then leave and find their way to all corners of the world.
“My leaving wasn’t to the far flung corners. I remember catching the train at Axminster on a Sunday afternoon and arriving at Derby to then find digs and start work at Rolls-Royce Aero Engine Division on the Monday morning. A bit daunting for an 18 who’d never been further north than Bristol! However, the work was good and the employer was regarded as the best.
“I met my wife, Wendy, a Derby girl, at ‘Royce’s’ and after five years we decided to return south. I got a position at the Ministry of Defence’s Hydrographic Office (UKHO) in Taunton and worked there for 40 years as a cartographer and a senior HR manager, during which time I was also a Trade Union chairman, chair of the national Mapping & Charting Group and a member of the MoD Group Council.
“I have also been a school governor for 20 years at the Castle School in Taunton and a parish council chairman for 20 years.
“I have two children, Sarah and Chris, who are married to Keven and Holly, and three grandchildren – James, Lucy and Felicity – with another due very shortly.
“We spent most of our weekends at Lyme visiting mum and dad, Alan and Peggy Larcombe, both Lyme people through and through and to whom there was no better place. If truth be known we never really left Lyme, although the necessity of employment in other places and the experiences gathered has provided a perspective.
“It enables, as many others who leave Lyme and return, the means to see Lyme through the mixed prism of past recollection and present day. It cannot be about trying to relive or recreating the past, any more than it can be about change without regard to the past.
“For Lyme and other ‘special places’ it has to be about the happy co-existence of past and present. Respecting the important visible features of the town’s historic legacy while at the same time understanding and providing for present day and future needs.
“Lyme people effectively give up their town to holidaymakers and significantly-increasing numbers of day-trippers, such is the nature of living in a very popular seaside town that has tourist facilities and substantial populations within a short drive.
“The town council gives a considerable amount of its resources to the visitor and tourist needs. I’m keen that we give more thought to the effect of the choices and actions taken in attracting ever-increasing numbers.
“Lyme is very small and its attraction is big, and while visitor income is welcomed, there is a limit to the numbers the town can cater for and we need to understand how we can better manage it. We also need to remember what it means to live in Lyme and the impact of heightened seasonal numbers particularly as the season is tending to widen.
“Lyme is a town that is recognised all over the country such is the draw to its West Dorset setting and unique landscape. The beaches, seafront, the Cobb and historic buildings, and surrounding countryside are the draw and we need to ensure it remains a quality place to visit while also being a special place to live. The two have to be held in balance simply because you can’t have one without the other.
“Lyme Regis Town Council has to deal with larger matters than many other towns of its size, such is the nature of its area and location, and there is sometimes more to issues than might appear.
“We have recently had council elections and have many new councillors. I would ask that they are given the chance to develop into the role and that they and the council as a whole are judged by what it does and the effort in doing its best for the town.
Councillor Larcombe will formally be installed as Mayor of Lyme Regis at the annual mayor making ceremony on Wednesday, June 5.