A TOWN councillor has said Lyme Regis is being “ripped off” by West Dorset District Council over its winter boat storage arrangements at Monmouth Beach.
Every winter, the town council allows West Dorset District Council to use the far end of Monmouth Beach car park for boat storage, renting out space to boat owners per metre.
The arrangement results in a loss of car parking income for the town council, estimated to be in excess of £5,000.
Last year, the town council charged West Dorset £3,500 for use of the car park, and the district council was thought to have made about £4,000 by charging £47.50 per metre for boats.
However, this year the district council has increased its charges by 21 per cent to £57.50 per metre. Town councillors have expressed concern about the increased cost and the amount of space being used.
Speaking at a recent meeting, Councillor Stan Williams said there were 26 boats measuring a total of 200 metres currently being stores in the car park, which equated to £11,680 under West Dorset’s new charges.
“That doesn’t include all the junk they have left there, a very big trailer and 30 dinghy racks. There’s virtually no parking left,” he added.
“We are being ripped off. I’m all for them putting the boats there but not all the other junk.
“They have increased their charges considerably, they are making a lot of money out of this and we, as a council, need to look after our council taxpayers and we should get a fair share. We are being robbed blind.”
Councillor Brian Larcombe also expressed concerns, saying an increase of 21 per cent was “horrendous”.
‘Profiting at our expense’
“The district council should pass to us the money they collect. It’s our car park, our spaces, our remuneration, the money should come back to us. They are profiting at our expense, which is all wrong.”
The Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Michaela Ellis, said that the money made by West Dorset was probably being spent back in Lyme Regis harbour.
“We need to be allowing them to do this, this council supports the fact that we have a working harbour,” she added.
However, Councillor Derek Hallett argued that the district council didn’t need to make any money for the harbour as it “pays for itself”.
He added: “We shouldn’t let them make money out of us. It’s a good idea to help everyone out but we shouldn’t be the loser.”
Councillor Ellis proposed the town council increase its charge for use of the car park from £3,500 to £4,234 – in line with the district’s 21 per cent increase. However, her motion failed to win support.
Councillor Williams added: “We are responsible to the council taxpayers of Lyme Regis and no one of this council seems to want to listen to them at all.”
Councillor Larcombe commented: “It’s one thing having the boats there but all these racks as well, it’s taking up the whole car park. Who is managing this?
“These people are taking the proverbial and the measly figure we’re getting is of no reflection of the kind of income we have lost because of this.”
Councillor Larcombe proposed charging the district council £5,750 plus VAT for use of the car park, which was agreed.