Thursday, 23 June 2011


HAVING been elected to Lyme Regis Town Council in the May elections and given the chairmanship of its most influential committee soon after, Mark Gage is already setting out his plans for the future of the town. Born and bred in West London, Mark spent over 20 years working in IT and Broadcast Engineering, mainly with BBC News, travelling the country to provide technical support to journalists, sparking an interest in current affairs and a “healthy distrust” of politicians. In 2003, Mark moved to Lyme Regis with his wife Alison and their two children. He now works advising companies how to reduce their utility costs and carbon footprints. As a member of the local lifeboat crew, Mark has an interest in all things boating, as well as motorbiking.

WHAT brought you to Lyme Regis?
Alison and I were keen to get away from the breakneck pace of living in London, and to find somewhere with a better quality of life in which to bring up our children. We had visited Lyme on many occasions and had really fallen in love with it, so when we had the chance to look for somewhere, Lyme just seemed the natural choice. Although it was a big change for us, from the beginning it felt like home.

WHAT prompted you to put yourself forward as a councillor in the May elections?
My son was involved in the action group formed to save The Boys Club (The Hub), and talked me into getting involved, and it just sort of grew from there. I’m a great believer that you get the community you deserve, and that it’s not enough to just to sit around talking about how you want to see things get better - sometimes you have to put the time in. Lyme is such a wonderful place to live, but it won’t stay that way without a strong community helping to protect all that is good about it.

IN your election address you said you had previous experience as a councillor. Where was this?
I was a councillor in the London Borough of Hillingdon for eight years, specialising in Planning and Economic Development. Being a councillor in Hillingdon was very different - there were a total of 64 councillors and the ward I represented had over 10,000 people in it, almost three times the population of Lyme. Some things were similar, though, like the wide range of incomes and social backgrounds.

IN your vision for the town council, you gave a commitment to young people that you will deliver the long-awaited skatepark. How do you plan to do so?
We have a site identified and a commitment from the district council to work with us to develop a park there. The next steps must be to work with the young people to agree a design and to apply for planning permission. What is clear is that we will not be able to do it all in one go; we will have to phase its development and proceed as funding allows. The young people of the town have waited too long for this, and I don’t want to see them wait any longer now than is absolutely necessary. I hope it should be possible to see the first phase started within the next 12 months.

YOU are very involved with the lifeboat station at Lyme Regis. Do you think the lifeboat service should be financed from the public purse, as are the other emergency services in this country, or is it better off being a charitable organisation?
It’s been a true honour to be part of the crew at Lyme Regis and something I would never have dreamt possible before moving to Lyme. The RNLI is a unique organisation and one of its key strengths is that it is made up of volunteers. So the simple answer is no, it would be very difficult to continue this volunteer ethos if it became a government funded service.

IF you could wave a magic wand, what would be your biggest wish for Lyme?
I’d like to find a way for improving the opportunities for our young people. We need to drive the local economy to provide more high value jobs and to improve the availability of affordable housing for them. And if I could have a second go, it would be to reduce the number of seagulls!

IF you could invite three great seafarers to dinner, who would they be and why?
Captain Cook - it must have been fantastic mapping whole continents for the first time, Sir Francis Chichester - I remember following his progress as he became the first person to single handedly circumnavigate the globe and I’d like to find out how he managed all that time on his own, and finally, it would have to be a character from fiction, Long John Silver. He’s always suffered from a bad press, and I bet he would lighten the mood!

HOW would you like to be remembered on your epitaph?
He had an open and enquiring mind, didn’t hold grudges and smiled a lot. If you are asking what I would like on my gravestone, I would have to borrow from the late, great Spike Milligan and have “I told you I was ill”!

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