A LONG and acrimonious dispute between Lyme Regis Town Council and the Bowling Club over car parking spaces on Monmouth Beach has been settled.
In considering the future of their assets on and around Monmouth Beach, the town council decided in November 2016 to increase the lease rent for the bowls clubhouse and bowling green to around £4,000 and to charge a lease rent for the bowling club car park based on 50 per cent of the current income the council receives from its parking on Monmouth Beach, to take effect from this January.
When 35 bowling club members crowded the Guildhall in May last year to object councillors were warned that if they did not lower the “outrageous” charges for the car park the club would close down by 2021.
The council decided in the end to charge the bowling for 12 spaces at the full market value but to negotiate a percentage figure if the club was willing to relinquish use of the car park during agreed months, and was willing to break the lease immediately.
It was also agreed to arrange a meeting between the council and the club, the council to be represented by councillors Brian Larcombe and Graham Turner.
That meeting took place in January with a recommendation to the full council that they would take back 12 spaces in the car park for six months in the off-season for public parking for a fee of £7,020 with the flexibility for the bowling club to fit in as many vehicles as it wanted in the car park.
This recommendation was adopted at the council’s February meeting.
In a letter attached to the council minutes, bowling club secretary Alan Nabarro said they were grateful, after a long period of the council refusing to meet them, they had now had several meetings with councillors Larcombe and Turner to discuss the issue.
Mr Nabarro said: “Our discussions have been wide ranging examining the role of the club in the town providing healthy exercise and social opportunities for mainly the older people, providing a high level of sporting facility in an iconic setting, bringing people and money to other businesses in the town.”
Dealing with the existing car parking lease, Mr Nabarro reiterated that the park provided 24 spaces and that the club had been charged for at least 25 years on this basis.
He continued: “We have proven that there could only be 11 spaces if designed to standards published as official policy by Dorset County Council. This means, in accordance with the current formula the current rent of the car park should be £3,575 not £7,800 and that we have been overcharged for the 25 years of the current lease. At current levels this adds up to £80,000.
“Lyme Regis Town Council have known about this injustice for at least 12 years. Members of the bowls club and probably the majority of residents believe the defence of this unfair contract was reprehensible.”