Thursday, 23 June 2011

Change there will definitely be

THEY promised change - and change there will undoubtedly be. Our six new councillors are now embedded and the election of the various committee chairmanships and vice-chairmanships completed.

Five out of the six new faces have taken positions of responsibility, with Mark Gage leading the pack with the top job of chairing the influential Strategy and Policy Committee. Anita Williams has taken charge of the newly named Planning and Highways Committee and Chris Clipson is the new chairman of Operational Management Sub-Committee, with Terry O’Grady his deputy.
Rikey Austin has taken on the role of vice-chairman of the Tourism and Advertising Sub-Committee. With Lorna Jenkin chairing two committees, Community Development Partnership and Tourism and Advertising, and Lucy Campbell accepting the vice-cirmanship of Strategy and Policy, that leaves former mayor Michael Ellis, former policy chairman Owen Lovell, and long-serving Barbara Austin and Ann Bradbury without any specific roles.

Distrtict councillor Daryl Turner (deputy mayor) and George Symonds do not have any committee roles to ensure there are no pre-determination issues in the job of representing Lyme on West Dorset District Council.

In the past it has always been the case that new councillors would get their knees brown before taking on the role of chairing a committee.

This has particularly been the case with the appointment of chairman of the main decision-making committee - now called Strategy and Policy. This chairmanship has always gone to one of the council’s most senior and experienced members.

In fact, I can’t remember a new councillor ever getting this job within days of being elected, but that’s the fate that has fallen to Mark Gage.

You will note, however, in our 60 Seconds interview on page two, that Mark has had previous local government experience, having served as a councillor in West London for eight years. So he’s no stranger to local government.

Mark took the opportunity at his first meeting as chairman of Strategy and Policy last week to read a statement which laid out his vision for the future of the town council.

It was well prepared and presented, despite the fact that my mobile phone went off (unforgiveable) half way through possibly the most important speech Mark has made for some time.

Mark, clearly aware that there has been some animosity between the new and the old guard, recognised the great contribution that the former councillors who were not returned to office in last month’s election had made to the running of the town over the years. But he made it clear that a new dawn was rising and that he expected the new council to pull together and deliver the agenda for change the town demanded through the ballot box.

It was also a bold and brave statement in places, with a commitment given that the new council will deliver the skatepark forwhich the young people of Lyme have waited so long.

You can read Mark’s statement in full on page 12 and there are many who will be encouraged by what he has to say.

If I had to mark it, I would give Mark 8+ out of ten. Making such a statement was certainly a departure from the norm, with the mayor usually laying out the agenda for the future.
But Sally Holman will have the chance to set out her stall for the next couple of years at the ancient mayor-making ceremony in the Guildhall tomorrow (Thursday) evening.

TWO familiar old faces popped into the View From offices over the past couple of weeks just to say hello. John Curtis, whose father used to run the back shop in Staples Terrace (as we referred to it when we were kids) called in to tell me he is thinking of returning to the area after retiring from a career in catering, much of it with British Airways. He brought in a box of old Lyme pics, some of which I used last week, and many of the Curtis clan who fished off of Back Beach.

This week Paul Johnson also popped in to see me. I recently ran a story in the View on how Paul, a freelance artist, had moved to Los Angeles and was making a name for himself as an illustrator.

Paul was flying back to the States this week after visiting his mum in Kingsway. He says he misses Lyme but is settled and happy in LA with his American wife. But he hopes to return to his home town every couple of years. It was nice to see them both.


WHEN I went down to the Cobb on Sunday morning I could not help thinking that any foreign visitors to Lyme could have been forgiven for thinking they had landed on the wrong side of the channel.

For they were greeted by a line of 407 people singing “Frere Jacques” on the sea wall made famous by Meryl Streep in the film The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

It was, of course, the very clever idea, which stemmed from the Woodroffe School, of creating a new world record for the most people singing the classic French children’s song to promote The Hub’s attempt to win £60,000 in the Jubilee People’s Millions.

With the 407 supporters braving the rain (it poured down just as Marcus and Diana Dixon from the Development Trust and town crier Phil Street, started the singing but they kept going, frantically encouraged by Hub project leader Fran Williams.

Lyme now has a great opportunity of winning £60,000 for The Hub by phoning a special number next Tuesday. That number will not be released until 9am that day and an army of volunteers are being recruited to make sure the number is known by the widest possible audience in and around Lyme.

Everyone can phone ten times from as many different phones as they can access. I am told that to be sure of winning we need possibly as many as 10,000 calls to beat Portland Gig Club to the booty.

Come on, we can do it!

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