A LYME Regis fossil shop owner has berated the town council for allowing stalls selling fossils to operate from the Marine Parade shelters for minimal rent.
Paul Crossley, who owns Jurassic Gems in Drakes Way, described the council’s policy as “treacherous” at this week’s meeting.
He had spoken on the matter at a previous meeting, but returned to full council this week saying he was now representing all other fossil, mineral and jewellery shops in Lyme Regis as their spokesperson.
Mr Crossley asked if the council had taken anymore bookings for stalls selling these items for 2019.
Town clerk John Wright said he did not know the detail of individual bookings, but bookings had been made for 2019 and no change had been made to the council’s policy about what types of stalls could operate in the shelters.
Mr Crossley then launched into a heated response, asking: “Do you think this is fair to the traders of Lyme Regis, the people who put you in office, that voted for you, who took time out of their calendar to vote for you?
“Not only that, but when you were canvassing, knocking on doors, you gave out manifestos and none of it has been adhered to because, as far as I can see, all this council has done is pulled the rug from under out feet.
“You have allowed all and sundry to use the shelters all summer long, making vasts amounts of money, thousands and thousands of pounds for £20 a day each, with no capital outlay other than that £20 – no tax, no insurance, no rates, no rent, no water, gas or electric bills, nothing. They have had a captive audience all summer while the shops in town are struggling.
“What is this council’s take on Lyme Regis? Does it honestly believe that this is the way forward to encourage business people in Lyme Regis, to encourage people to come and live in this town? It’s a debacle.
“There are four words to describe this decision – odious, vacuous, supercilious and obnoxious. Those are four words that I have been given by other retailers and I can add a fifth one to that – treacherous, absolutely treacherous!
“This is high treason by the town council, elected by its own people to defend their lives, their homes, their properties, their businesses. It is high treason and 200 years ago you would have been beheaded but that’s too good for you I’m afraid. This is not over.”
The Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Michaela Ellis, said she did not think commercial traders were only paying £20 a day to use the shelters.
Mr Crossley replied: “I can assure you they are because I took part for one day. I didn’t realise it was going to be all summer, I was invited to take part for one day.
“It was £100 to rent the shelters for five traders, £20 each. I can do simple maths.”
No further comment was made on the matter at the meeting.
Speaking after the meeting, Mike Jeffries who organises the seafront markets, contacted LymeOnline to refute several of the “false allegations” made by Mr Crossley.
Mr Jeffries said: Let’s start with the council, which Mr Crossley obviously has little or no respect for. Lyme Regis Town Council does an amazing job for a small town like Lyme, year after year. Lyme punches far above its weight and this is largely down to the council and volunteers.
“As for the market itself, anyone can sell anything they like. For example, we’ve had a gentleman selling T-shirts at various times in one of the bays and through the year you will see all sorts of goods being sold.
“The cost of hiring the shelters in £100 a day. There are three bays. I pay a year in advance for all my bookings. I charge £30 for a whole bay and £20 for a shared bay. I have a whole bay myself and get £70 for the rest of the space, this covers the £100 rent.
“Now I could charge double that but I choose not to do so. I’m not doing this to make a profit from other stallholders, this includes Mr Crossley.
“Indeed, I’ve done a market in the shelters, not organised by me, when there were six traders in one pay, all paying £15 each – do the maths.
“I don’t allow any traders to participate unless they have full third party insurance cover. Mr Crossley knows this as he assured me that his shop insurance covered him for market use as well, when he was invited to sell at my market.
“As far as paying tax is concerned, that is for the individual to keep a good set of books. I do a summary at the end of each market and pass them on to my accountant in June. He will then let me know how much tax I have to pay.
“As for us taking thousands and thousands of pounds, anyone who has done a market will be aware that taking £200 would be regarded as a good day.”