Wednesday, 28 April 2010

WEYMOUTH MATTERS with Harry Walton

Health and safety gone mad?

IF THE Nanny State needed an advert for its insanity then it came at a recent job of mine.

I had to go on to a demolition site and, because the company involved had to follow rules, staff apologetically took me to one side in a hut where I was kitted out to cover my visit even though I wasn’t going anywhere inside the gutted buildings.

First of all a hard helmet was assembled for me to put on, then a pair of half-rubberised gloves were produced and adapted for me with a knife so I could use a camera before I had to put on a virulent yellow site waistcoat.

Stepping out in that lot didn’t exactly make it easy to work and I couldn’t believe it when I was then approached and asked to put on a large pair of plastic glasses over my normal glasses.

I told staff I hadn’t worn so much protective clothing since the last bomb disposal I had been invited to!

They apologised but said they were only following the rules.

Fortunately it emerged that perhaps I wouldn’t be going right into the heart of danger… and I was then allowed to take it all off again which was a blessing, but I have learnt my lesson.

This week I have a job covering a highly dangerous coffee morning so I’ll be attending that menace in a flak jacket wearing my old cricket box with a special reinforced cheek to put my tongue in!

Quick on the draw with the sausages

WHO can resist the bangers offered at Weymouth’s Fantastic Sausage Factory?

Not many people, myself included, but with owner Dennis Spurr you don’t just get decent meat but service which raises a huge smile.

He was out in the street recently chatting away to all and sundry, as usual distributing some of his popular free sausage samples to anyone who wanted to try them.

Up stepped a couple of men while he was talking to someone else and the first man popped a piece of sausage into his mouth.

The second man also picked up a piece and, as Dennis had finished his latest chat, the man asked him what type of sausage it was.

Quick as a flash Dennis replied: “It’s from our latest pet food range!”

He then burst out laughing and came clean to the relief of the first man whose horrified face had begun to show that he regretted finishing his free sample off so quickly!

Too much, too soon?

CHILDREN seem to grow up so much faster now and modern life must shoulder a lot of the blame.

Shop chain Primark recently bowed to public pressure and withdrew its range of padded bikinis for girls as young as seven.

It was a typical problem which perfectly illustrated that the transition period between childhood and adulthood is often being not so much blurred as wiped out altogether.

Walking in the sunshine near Weymouth town centre I was recently confronted by three girls aged about ten walking towards me.

These were children quite clearly still at primary school but they were decked out to try and look as old as they possibly could with fashion clothes, masses of jewellery and styled hair.

Perhaps they felt the need to do so because of peer pressure, because they wanted to attract the attention of boys or simply because they felt like it.

Whatever the reason, their appearance just jarred. It didn’t look right.

Adulthood will be with them all too soon and I’d have thought that the parents of all three girls would have been concerned that their appearance was a case of “too much too soon” particularly in these days of increased awareness of the sexual threat to children.

Silly season's here already

WEATHER is warmer so be warned, the summer silly season has started early.

On a single trip to Upwey motorists were treated to the sight of a middle aged woman in a frock looking left, looking right and then stepping straight off the Dorchester Road kerb right in front of heavy oncoming traffic which was forced to brake sharply.

A few yards further on and an elderly man drove his car partly on to the same busy road and only then looked right to see if there was any traffic coming. There was and by then it was swerving round him.

By now jittery motorists were on their guard and when a car came out of a turning across one lane of traffic near Littlemoor Road traffic lights they were ready to stand on their brakes when the same car shot across the second lane and turned into town right in front of them.

All in all, useful practice for when the tourism season really starts. God help us then!

Volcanic problems

ICELAND’S volcanic eruption has caused travel problems which have hit many parts of the globe including Weymouth and Portland.

One group of youths tried to claim that it had prevented them going on holiday to Iceland while a young couple were genuinely annoyed that their weekend departure to “Majawka” had been delayed.

So spare a thought for one pipe-puffing pensioner who heard all this while sat in the sunshine on a street bench.

What was his muttered take on the whole meteorological situation?

Well he said: “Doesn’t bother me. I can always go to Tesco!”

LYME MATTERS with Philip Evans

Will Lyme join the row over new council offices?

THE row continues to rage throughout West Dorset over the district council’s intention to build new £10.7 million offices, a decision supported by both of Lyme’s district councillors, Daryl Turner and Pat Hicks.

Public meetings in Dorchester and Bridport, co-ordinated by Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Sue Farrant, have both come down unanimously against the move from High West Street in Dorchester.

There’s been no public debate in Lyme Regis, other than a brief discussion at the March annual town meeting.

Such is the feeling in Dorchester that the town council spent £6,000 last week on a parish poll to get the view of the electorate. In a turnout of only 15.4 per cent, 2,004 people from the county town voted against the plan with just 156 being in favour.

The district concil has dismissed the result as not being representative of the views of the people of West Dorset as a whole.

I’m not sure spending £6,000 of public money was value for money for Dorchester Town Council, but they were duty bound to carry out the wishes of their council taxpayers.

This is an issue that affects the whole district an not just one town. Anyone who has visited the district council’s Stratton House complex in High West Street will be aware they are far from ideal and the district officers claim moving to the new town centre site will bring about big benefits over the years, saving taxpayers £145,000 a year from day one.

The campaign against the new offices has also been dismissed as a political one and council leader Robert Gould and chief executive David Clarke refused to attend the two public meetings.

They have produced a leaflet explaining in detail why it makes sense to build new offices, in the form of a question and answer format, and say there has been sufficient public consultation.

Understandably, there is concern in Dorchester about what will happen to the Old Crown Court, built in the 1790s, which forms part of the council complex.

Other issues raised include the possible ultimate abolishing of the district council if Dorset ends up with a unitary authority.

The council say they have worked carefully with their colleagues at Dorset County Council to ensure that should change happen the new offices will fit into a long term strategy for public sector offices in Dorchester.

So will Lyme have the chance to debate this issue in similar fashion to the meetings in Dorchester and Bridport?

Sue Farrant has her hands full at the moment with the general election looming, but I understand she would be prepared to co-ordinate a meeting in Lyme should there be a call for one.

I’m sure that Daryl would put up a good case for the new offices.

Remember, it’s your money too they are spending.


FOR me this was defintely the invitation I received from Dorset County Football Association to attend their awards night to receive a plaque recognising the contribution I have made to football in Lyme over the years.

Whilst I was delighted and proud to receive the award, especially in the 125th anniversary year of Lyme Regis FC, it did make me feel that my useful days are well and truly over.

The ten years I spent as chairman at the Davey Fort were among the most exhilarating of my life but we all have to be put out to grass sometime.

Arts and crafts idea for neglected seafront site?

A COUPLE of weeks ago in Lyme Matters I had a right old drip about the continuing state of the piece of land at the eastern end of the Marine Parade, fenced off by West Dorset District Council, and expressed the hope that it could be put to some more attractive use before the season gets underway.

I wrote that if the district council did not know what to do about it then perhaps the View from Lyme Regis readers could come up with some ideas. I even offered a bottle of champagne for the best suggestion.

The site in question was strengthened as part of the stabilisation of the gardens following the demolishing of two private properties which were in a dangerous state.

Town councillor and manager of LymeNet Lucy Campbell, who is also a very talented jewellery maker, immediatly got in touch to tell me that with the help of stone balancer Adrian Gray she had been trying to get permission from WDDC to use the land for quite some time.

She told me: “We’d like to run an arts and craft market over the summer period, maybe one or two times a week, selling local, handmade quality goods.”

She went on to explain that they had received “very little response” (surprise, surprise) and they now need to “up the ante”.

Lucy has spoken to district councillor Daryl Turner to see if he could take the matter past the officers straight to his fellow councillors in the hope of getting permission. I think it’s an excellent idea and a bottle of bubbly is on its way to Lucy.

Local photohrapher Peter Wiles also responded to my article. Whilst stressing that he had not consulted with anyone on his idea, he suggested that it could well be used as an “exciting space” for exhibiting sculpture, perhaps during ArtsFest or in collaboration with the Woodroffe School as a project.

I had one other response from someone who wanted to remain anonymous who suggested that the stark concrete mass at the back of the site could be made into a wall garden (very popular in cities) with the rest of the site turned into a peaceful seating area.

Lyme in the news

IT’S amazing just how many times you see Lyme Regis mentioned in the national headlines, sometimes in the most strangest of circumstances. Two classic examples last week.

Google News revealed that among the ten most important things that the sheik who owns Manchester City Football Club wanted was to sign Fernando Torres from Liverpool - and spend a long weekend in Lyme Regis.

The Guardian website also revealed later in the week that the Turkish town in which our patron saint St George slew the dragon, Urgup, has chosen Lyme as a possible twin town because our town seal, dating back to 1284, contains a ship with the flag of St George on it.
How bizarre.

... and lo and behold, a new signs appears

IN last week’s column I wrote about the state of the street sign at the top of Sherborne Lane and how it’s unrusty state had been reported to West Dorset District Council by the town council and the police.

I decided to do so after an irate resident called into our office to say she, too, had reported the sign, which had been ripped out of the tarmac and propped up againt the wall, but “nothing had been done”.

I telephoned the town council and the ever-helpful administration officer Victoria Strictler told me it was the responsiblility of West Dorset District Council. That evening I had an email from district council Daryl Turner saying it was not a district responsibility but a county one and he would contact county councillor Colonel Geoffery Brierley. He added: “A simple mistake to make.”

Lo and behold on Friday morning a workman turned up and cemented in a brand new sign. I replied to Councillor Turner asking him to confirm that it was indeed a county responsibility so that I could correct this sutuation in this week’s column.

He did not reply. So I double checked with Victoria and she said she would phone the district. They confirmed that it was their job and presumably they replaced the sign.

It matters not. The important thing is that a new sign has replaced the rusty old one - although it took several weeks and numerous complaints - and a little nudge from the View - to get the job done.

60 SECONDS INTERVIEW: Kimberly Clarke

KIMBERLY Clarke first moved to Lyme Regis in 1996, after emigrating from Canada to the UK in 1985.

She usually works in international development research communications, meeting people from all over the world. Kimberly moved back to Lyme a year ago after five years in Nicaragua.

A former trustee of the Lyme Regis Development Trust, Kimberly took on organising the Fossil Festival in January and is looking forward to having an entire year to organise the next one.

WHY do you think there is still so much interest in fossils and dinosaurs?
There is something irresistible about holding in your hand a fossil that could be more than 100-million-years-old and have lived and died on the very spot that you picked it up today. If the fossils on our beach are not collected they will simply be washed away and lost forever, so it’s great that so many people enjoy spending hours picking through all the rocks on the beach. The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre and Jurassic Coast team are at the forefront of smart fossil collecting too, which means that people can find out how to collect safely, and be encouraged to register important finds.

FOLLOWING last year’s success, what can people expect from this year’s festival?
We have some new things in the Marine Theatre, including a gig by Robyn Hitchcock, who in 2008 went on an Arctic voyage with the Cape Farewell art and climate change project. We will also be showing some great films on the big screen in the Marine, including two episodes of David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet’ series, ‘End of the Line’, a documentary about how overfishing is devasting the oceans, and ‘Art from a Changing Arctic’. The MEMO project on the beach will be carving a giant seafan on Portland stone. It’s an endangered species, and very relevant as it’s present in Lyme Bay. The marquees will be stuffed with old favourites like the Dinosaur Runway, and new things like the Jurassic Coast team’s giant fossil jigsaw.

HOW involved are local groups and people in the hosting of the festival?
The festival depends very heavily on our volunteers, and we always owe them a great vote of thanks. Traders put up our posters in their windows, Dave Milligan has taken our posters and leaflets all over the countryside. Virgil puts up the banner and flags, and all the Marine Theatre friends and volunteers pitch in to make the events there run smoothly. Previous festival organisers Fred Humphreys and Richard and Val Doney have been very generous with their time and experience, as have local fossil collectors who will put on a fossil fair in the grand marquee. Ellen Wrooke will be face painting in the jurassic garden on Saturday afternoon, and Alan and Lynne Vian will be inviting everyone to help build a giant sand ammonite on the beach Saturday morning.

HOW beneficial do you think events like this are for Lyme’s tourism and economy?
It’s a key mission of the Lyme Regis Development Trust to support and develop our local economy. The Fossil Festival – and the bigger 2012 Earth Festival that’s coming your way soon – are all part of a package that leads to the Jurassic Coast Field Studies Centre. The centre will not only provide decent jobs year round for people in Lyme, it will give opportunities for local people to teach courses on a whole range of subjects – from pure science to arts and crafts – and for all ages.

HOW much does it cost to hold the fossil festival and how is the money raised?
Our budget this year is just under £100,000. This doesn’t include all the volunteer hours and the more than £50,000 that our participants spend to bring their teams and exhibitions to Lyme. The Natural History Museum alone, who are bringing more than 20 scientists of all types this year, spend about £25,000. We have had funding from RELAYS, the Jurassic Coast team, Natural England, Arts Council England, West Dorset District Council, the Fine Family Foundation, Dorset County Council, Creative Dorset, and Jurassic Coast Trust. We have also had two donations from local businesses Lyme Bay Holidays, who are funding the website and programmes, and Newlands Holidays, who are paying for the Lyme-Charmouth free minibus. We will be applying to more and different funders next year, and will really focus on trying to get some more business support on board.

WHAT do you think makes Lyme the perfect host venue for such a big event?
Lyme is such a jewel. All the events are centred around the seafront, which just becomes a gigantic theatre and outdoor classroom. Our traders are all experienced at serving visitors and so are able to ramp up and meet the demand – although they will all need a very long lie in after the weekend.

IF you could invite anyone from throughout time for a dinner party, which three guests would you choose and why?
Mary Anning of course, David Attenborough, and Jon Snow. Jon would make sure the conversation kept flowing whenever I was tongue-tied.

IF you were stuck on a desert island, which three things would you want to take with you?
A year’s supply of chocolate, a complete set of Agatha Christie, and a very comfy hammock.

IF Mary Anning was alive today, what question would you ask her and why?
Why didn’t you keep a diary?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


CHRIS Meadows, 26, lives in Weymouth and works for the Magna Housing Association as the Co-ordinator of the Customer First initiative.

Chris grew up in West Dorset and attended Budmouth and Weymouth College. After a short spell working for the Department of Work and Pensions Chris took time out to travel Asia.

After returning to England Chris took up a job as a chef for a year before joining Magna in 2007.

Chris is a big sports fan, following his beloved Manchester United FC and acting as player manager for Tuatara Bar FC in the Weymouth and Portland Sunday Premier Division.

Despite being settled in his job for Magna, Chris hopes to spread his wings in the future and fulfil his ambitions to travel.

WHAT does your job involve?
Customer First is Magna’s programme to help staff give consistently excellent service to all customers. There are a number of exciting projects that are born out of Customer First which I am lucky enough to get involved with. In my role as co-ordinator, I organise the network of Champions and take forward initiatives and customer service issues.

WHAT is the best part of your job?
I really enjoy the variety of the job. I work in the role part time and also operate in Magna’s Technical Services department - the planned maintenance division of the organisation. The two different roles in themselves provide plenty of variety, but the Customer First role in particular involves me liaising and working with many areas of Magna and the wider housing sector.

WHAT schemes are you currently working on?
Along with our Customer First Champions, I am working on a guide that advises staff on reasonable adaptations and tips to make what we say equally accessible to people with visual impairments, hearing impairments, mental illness, physical disability, dyslexia or learning disability. It is hoped that this will improve understanding, service and accessibility.
There is also a Dignity Champions scheme. We have set up a group of trained staff who are able to advise, support and act as a ‘critical friend’ to employees who feel that they have experienced issues of bullying and/or harassment.

WHAT would be your dream job?
Well I guess lottery winner doesn’t count as a job no? Well, I’d love to have been good enough to be a professional footballer, but more realistically it would be travel writer.

WHERE is the best place you have visited?
Tough call. I love Barcelona. I’m a sucker for theme parks, so Orlando was fantastic, but I think it would have to be Koh Phangan in Southern Thailand. It was a paradise island with amazing scenery and fascinating, engaging locals. I’ll never forget stepping out on to the balcony of my bungalow seeing the magnificent blue of the sea lapping on the beach. I’d put my feet up, read a book and then wander into the town for a cocktail.

WHERE would you still like to go?
Everywhere! I really want to visit Northern Africa and South America, particularly Brazil and Argentina. Donations welcome.

WHAT do you think of Manchester United FC’s chances this season?
Despite my tender years, I was a fully-fledged fan years before our first Premier League title. My Dad is to blame; he wasn’t going to let me support anyone else! Unfortunately it is looking like Chelsea’s year for the title at the moment. If I didn’t play football on Saturdays then I’d be down the Wessex watching Weymouth. The less said about their season the better.

WHO are the best footballers you’ve played with?
I’ve played with and against some good players in my time, including a couple of ex-pros, but for me it’s between a few good friends of mine that I have played with for years and are well known locally. John Lamb played for Weymouth during the Claridge era and now again currently. As well as being very skilful, he has a great football brain. Tom Grattidge is an extremely talented young striker that plays for me on Sundays, but the best would have to be Andy Graham. He has a great engine, every attribute you need as a player and is a cracking bloke to boot.

WHO would be your three dream guests at a dinner party and why?
Sir Alex Ferguson would be the first name on the list, just to thank him profusely for what he has done for my beloved united. Larry David of TV’s Curb Your Enthusiasm would be next on the list, he is hilarious and I love his inability to follow social convention. As for the the third guest, my lovely girlfriend Sarah did ask for a name check, and I guess inviting her would be the ideal way of doing so. However, Scarlett Johansson edges it I’m afraid. Sorry, Sarah.

WHAT was the last book you read, film you watched and CD you listened to?
Friends like These by Danny Wallace was the last book. The Informant! or at least half of it, was the last film I watched - it was awful - and the last CD was The Doors - LA Woman.

VIEW PROFILE: Dave Swaffield

There is nothing like a dame

DAVE Swaffield has been involved with local theatre since he was a child.

Playing in drama, farce, musical theatre and restoration comedy, Dave has been a consistent name in theatre programmes across the county. However it was in his roles as the pantomime dame in which Dave really excelled regularly stealing the show.

In recent years Dave became a founder member of Bridport Musical Theatre Company and has found success as a director. His first two shows “The Boyfriend” and “Anything Goes” were a sell out success and received universally positive reviews.

The company last week performed their showcase production “Showstoppers” at the Bridport Arts Centre which again was a sell out.

This summer Dave will once again fill the director’s chair as he takes on the challenge of producing “42nd Street”.

SUSPENDED at the top of the curtain at Bridport’s Palace Theatre in a dress and heavy make up Dave Swaffield found himself in a familiar role as the pantomime dame.

A quick slip of the rope and Dave had fallen 20 feet to the stage, met with rapturous applause and laughter from the audience.

A little bruised Dave jumped to his feet, dusted himself down and completed the performance.
“Normally you’d think about it but as the old saying goes ‘the show must go on’,” he recalled.

“I had a few bruises and I was a bit sore but I didn’t break anything, people probably thought it was part of the act but I certainly knew it wasn’t.”

Inspired by a performance at Weymouth’s Ritz Theatre, aged nine, Dave began to learn his craft and at 12-years-old he performed his first tap solo to the tune of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”.

Dave is the first to admit that his singing voice and physical stature held him back when it came to landing a lead role, but he was happy to entertain the audiences with the well crafted cameo role.

What Dave lacked in his singing voice he more than made up for with his comedic talent and despite not having the stature of a leading man, he had no worries about commanding the stage.

Dave found his calling in pantomime and for many he will be remembered as the perfect dame.

“I did a lot of pantomime because I think that is the finest training ground that anybody can have,” he said.

“If you look at a lot of your musical stars they all started in pantomime because you learn craft, techniques and how to characterize. I think it’s a good foundation to go on to musical theatre.

“People think playing the dame is easy but it’s not just a case of putting women’s clothing on, there is a bit more to that. You are not doing a drag act, you have got to have good contact with the audience and again it’s good training because you learn to time your audience and listen for reaction.

“Then when you’re playing a part, you know when to go in and when to pull back a bit.”
Despite wanting to tread the boards from a young age Dave never dreamt of fame and was more than happy to just be on the stage where he got the thrill he needed as an exhibitionist.

“At school I was always the comedian and I remember my headmaster saying when I left school, ‘Swaffield you’re going to get nowhere’ and maybe he was right, I don’t know,” he joked.

“I never took the step to try and make it professionally, I was quite happy to do it at the level I was at. I think it was the adrenalin rush. There is not much in the world today to give you an adrenalin rush but theatre, especially if you are playing a main part, definitely does and I can’t compare it to anything.”

Looking back at his youth Dave wonders whether he did have what it took to make the move professionally but it is never with regret.

“I didn’t ever want to become famous. My dream was to do what I have done basically and end up directing, although I haven’t given up entirely thinking about taking roles.

“I’m enjoying directing and that was one of my aims. I have directed, although I say it myself, two very successful shows with the help of a very talented team and I’m doing what I dreamt of really.”

After attending a summer school on directing musicals at Loughborough University Dave went on to produce his first show in 2008.

“The Boyfriend” was a sell-out production, which received rave reviews from both the local media and the National Operatic and Dramatic Association. A feat he repeated with “Anything Goes” in 2009.

Although relatively new to the world of directing Dave thinks he has identified some keys to his success.

“I think a director has to be a director and not a dictator,” he explained.

“I feel that he has got to let the actors and actresses he is working with see how they interpret the part and then suggest, and I emphasise suggest, putting little things in to shape them round to how you see it.

“I think you can go in heavy but many times you find that actors have seen it differently to you so you have always got to be on the same wavelength as your actors and not above them as a dictator.

“I enjoy working with young people and I think they bring a big energy to a show and it’s something you can’t explain because that energy gets across to the audience. In our last show “Anything Goes” we got a standing ovation on the final night and that is quite something in Bridport.”

As a debut director with a reputation as a performer Dave had concerns when taking on the challenge of directing but he was confident in the people around him.

He said: “I knew there was something there that was special because I had an excellent team around me with Becky Mather as the choreographer, Murray Davis as the musical director, Brenda and Mel on the costumes. I knew the team was good and the cast was excellent so there were was good ingredients for a successful show.”

Dave had complete confidence in his production team and cast, and being out of the stage spotlight at least should mean little nerves for such a seasoned stage performer, but Dave insists that wasn’t the case.

“I get double, treble, quadruple nervous before a show as a director because I’m nervous for all of them, not just myself,” he said.

“It is a big responsibility because you are putting all these people up on stage and if you haven’t got it right then you are not being fair to the performers so you have got to give it your best.

“It was so nice to see them being applauded like they were because they were great, they were all great.

“I’m quite an emotional person really and I shed a tear when I saw them get that standing ovation.”

With two successful shows under his belt and a third in the pipeline Dave’s directing career is going strong. Couple that with the fact that he has not been on stage himself for five years and you have to wonder if Dave’s days as a performer are over.

He insists they aren’t and is quite clear that there is one part that he will not be watching from the director’s chair.

“There is one role that I desire and I am a great fan of his and that is Joel Grey and I would dearly love to play MC in cabaret” he revealed.

“I wouldn’t be able to direct it of course but that is an ambition I’ve got left.”

LYME MATTERS with Philip Evans

Still a victory for the protesters

OUR front page story this week revealing that Palmers Brewery will not sell the Three Cups, or entertain the idea of reopening the iconic Broad Street building as an hotel, will disappoint many.

There are others in the town who will mutter: “I told you so.”

At the end of the day, the Three Cups is owned by Palmers and, within reason, they can do what they want with it.

That’s the bottom line.

The save The Three Cups Action Group say the fight is definitely not over, although they intend to step back from the negotiations until such time as Palmers submit an planning application.

There was some scepticism when Palmers originally rejected the hotel option after commissioning a report from a firm of experts which came to the conclusion that it would cost too much to convert the decaying building back into an hotel.

It was estimated that it could be as much as £3 to £4 million and it did not make business sense to spend that amount of money.

Many thought the figures quoted were grossly inflated and, I understand, there were at least two serious approaches from those who were prepared to buy the building and return it to its former glory, one from an established hotel group.

But Palmers say they will not sell the Three Cups “under any circumstances” and we are told they have “no appetite” for the hotel option.

It is unlikely they will change their minds.

I remember the Three Cups in its heyday, particularly when it was run by the late Albert Raffo, a Mancunian publican who was fully aware that the old building had many operational difficulties, even at the height of its popularity.

I have to admit that I was shocked with the interior condition of the Three Cups when recently shown around with other members of the press.

Even back in the 1980s it must have been a terrible fire hazard. So what happens now?

Palmers say they are dedicated to working with the people of Lyme to come up with a suitable scheme which will benefit the community and meet their business requirements.

They have not ruled out a “mixed use” for the Three Cups which could feature some residential accommodation with a restaurant and some retail units.

Whilst there may be some disappointment that the hotel option seems to be a dead duck, the most important factor is that the Three Cups, when developed, will not be the eyesore it has become in the town’s main trading area.

Another big factor is that the building will be made safe for all time.

That’s why I don’t think the protesters, particularly the Save The Three Cups Action Group, should be too upset about the situation.

Following the initial furore resulting from John Grantham organising that first protest meeting in Bridport afer forming his Community Alert group, well attended public meetings in Lyme formed the Action Group with John Dover taking on the role of chairman.

From day one John was anxious to proceed in a spirit of co-operation, rather than taking an antagonistic view to Palmers’ reluctance to engage in any meaningful public debate.

Bringing the Palmers to the table and getting a commitment to work with the town to find a suitable solution was a huge achievement.

The protesters had succeeded where our elected representatives had failed miserbly for over 20 years. Lyme Town Council had made a number of attempts over the years to engage Palmers in discussions, without success, and then the instability of the land behind the Cups became an issue.

Palmers claim they were thwarted on many occasions by the district council because of the coastal defence problems, but none of these to my knowledge have been publicly confirmed which has led the further scepticism from the public.

The district council’s reponse to John Grantham’s complaints about the danger of the building also left much to be desired.

John has made himself very unpopular at High West Street in Dorchester. He was even banned from contacting certain officers.

Once the action group, was formed in Lyme, he took a back seat but continues to press the district council over the safety issues.

For sure, he won’t be on council leader Robert Gould’s Christmas card list, but I doubt whether that will worry him too much.

You can always rely on the people of Lyme to rally to a good cause but the Three Cups protests were among the most vociferous in recent years, causing a few spats among our town councillors and the electorate.

However, had John Grantham not started the ball rolling, and John Dover adopted a more conciliatory approach, the Three Cups could have continued its decay for many years to come.
We should never just sit back and accept “that’s the way it is”.

Hopefully, it will not be long before the Three Cups stands proud again - even if it’s not an hotel.

A victory for the people.

A sight for sore eyes

THE road sign at the top of Sherborne Lane is rusty and just propped up against the wall.

It’s been that way for some time, despite several reports being made to West Dorset District Council, the responsible authority, by both the police and Lyme Regis Town Council.

Recently the police recovered the sign from Colway Mead and returned it to its rightful position.

As so often happens with the district council, very little seems to get done, prompting many to ask the question: “Do they really care about Lyme?” Perhaps this is something our two district councillors could take on board?

If you have any doubts about the district council’s failing ability to keep our streets clean, let me direct you to page five and the brilliant letter from local hairdresser Jane Caddy.
It beggars belief!

I’VE abandoned my rather putrid attempt to grow a trendy goatee beard, referred to in last week’s Lyme Matters column.

I decided to abandon the project when my former footballing colleague Lee Caddy stopped me in Broad Street and commented: “I see the cat’s left home”.

I went home and immediately shaved it off.

EVENT of the week most certainly should have been the farewell party the View staff threw for my eldest daughter Zoe who was due to fly out to Australia on Sunday evening.

Zoe has been working as a designer at the View for the last two years and after work on Friday we all piled into the Mariners Hotel (well, you’ve got to support the boss, haven’t you?) before ending up at Cobbys down at the Cobb for tapas and a pizza.

We know how to throw a party at the View and a good time was had by all, although Jackie and I baled out before the youngsters went on a pub crawl.

Our eldest son Darren came home on Saturday for a meal at the Bay Hotel (excellent food and service) and we were planning a farewell family lunch on Sunday.

By this time, however, her British Airways flight had been cancelled because of the volcanic ash situation and she was told it would at least a week before she would be able to fly to Cairns where she intends to spend the next 12 months.

So Zoe returned to work on Monday morning - and we might just have to do it all again on Friday!

WHAT do you do when the sun comes out and you have a few spare moments to your self down at the Cobb?

There’s only answer - read the View from Lyme Regis as these two discerning ladies did over the weekend, captured by local photographer Peter Wiles.

In fact, demand for the View from Lyme Regis has never been greater with over 3,700 copies picked up every week, at least three times more than any other local newspaper in the town.

Recently, Tesco in Lyme Regis distributed over 900 copies, a record since they opened, and we now have 53 different distribution outlets in Lyme, Uplyme, Charmouth and Hunters Lodge.

During the peak summer months we expect the distribution of the View from Lyme Regis to regularly exceed 4,000 copies every week.

WEYMOUTH MATTERS with Harry Walton

Name the giant fish and chip and win some for yourself!

IF you had to pick one fast meal that supposedly summed up a nation then for England it would have to be fish and chips.

We get through acres of spuds and untold shoals of fish every year, but I doubt there is a fish and chip shop in the land with a fish and a chip which are each four feet high!

But you can not only see these favourites of the fryer but try and choose a name for them at Alf’s Fish and chip shop on Chickerell Road, Weymouth.

Owner John Pearce is hoping View readers can come up with a name for his giant chip and giant fish.

He said: “It is all a bit of fun in aid of our charities and we are hoping that View readers can come up with two names so they can each be christened.

“People can drop their choice of name off in the shop and the winning names will win two lots of free fish and chips each.”

Introducing children to their environment

SMALL birds survived better in Dorset this winter than in other areas of the country because the county escaped most of the snow.

Figures from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch saw 530,000 people count more than 8.5 million birds, recording 73 species in 280,000 gardens across the UK.

Dorset results showed that the long-tailed tit clung on to tenth place, suggesting that it was getting used to feeding on bird cake and feeders hung up in county gardens.

But long-tailed tits and other small birds such as the coal tit and the goldcrest suffered nationally with a “significant” drop in numbers.

Top of the Dorset numbers list was the house sparrow followed by blackbirds, blue tits, chaffinches, woodpigeons and starlings.

This year more than 75,000 schoolchildren and teachers took part in the national wildlife survey including pupils from Chickerell Primary School.

Year five teacher Karen Hocking said: “The children enjoy watching the birds and the challenge of identifying them. Big Schools Birdwatch is a great opportuntity for them to collect and analyse real data and know they are contributing to a national survey.”

Nick Tomlinson, who is site manager at the RSPB’s Radipole Lake reserve in Weymouth said: “The Big Schools’ Birdwatch is a great way to introduce thousands of children to the wildlife visiting their school environment. Wild birds never fail to enthuse and inspire and the response to this year’s survey has been fantastic with many schools now running it as a whole school project.”

Election fever? ... maybe not

YES, election fever is in full swing and there are some seriously busy politicians out there but voters don’t seem impressed.

Conversation everywhere from pubs and shops to seafront shelters and park benches seems to include the general election, so here are a few of the snippets to come my way so far:

Two pensioners sat chatting in the sun and one said: “Don’t matter who you vote for. They’ve all got their snouts in the trough.”

The other replied: “Yes, but you never see them get indigestion do you?!”

A group of teenagers with one young man bravely saying: “No way I’m going to vote.”

His girlfriend crushed him with: “You can’t anyway, you’re not old enough!”

Two women chatting about holidays and one said: “We couldn’t get the hotel we wanted but at least we’ll be away for the general bleeding election!

Closed for Christmas

THERE is early, then there is very early and finally there is ridiculous.

It was a Sunday and the café in question wanted to make sure that its customers knew it was shutting in the middle of the afternoon.

This was a little unusual since it was a warm sunny afternoon when a commercial outlet might have been expected to keep going and cash in on the conditions while it could before the start of the summer rainy season.

Instead customers were advised by a blackboard notice that the café was closing at 3.30pm.

Unfortunately such a bland notice seemed to be provoking grins and giggles rather than the solemnity required or even a grumble.

This may have had something to do with the fact that the café appeared to have neglected to clean its blackboard recently and beneath the notice of early closure was a heartfelt message… wishing all its customers a Merry Christmas!

A grand win

GAMBLERS come in all shapes and sizes and, it appears, with all manner of haircuts.

One such young man had opted to have his hair sculpted into a sort of large colourful curve jutting from his head like a garish horn.

A very brave act since such a coiffure is not for the faint hearted.

But fortune favours the brave and his display outside one licensed premises was followed soon after by a rapturous entry, his fist clutching a betting slip.

He then roared out that he had just won £2,055 on the Grand National!

Now that’s a winning perm if anyone ever saw one.