Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Medical centre: never again

IN an interview with Marcus Dixon this week, the Lyme Regis Development Trust supremo gives a thought-provoking and candid assesment of the recent troubles at the town’s medical centre.

He describes the “unpleasant struggle” for control of the medical centre, which went on for 15 years and ended up in the High Court, resulting in Dr Ian Conway being given notice to quit the practice,  as “shocking”  and that it “should never be allowed to happen again”.

There is no doubt that the legal wrangle split the town for many months and proved to be greatly distressing for the key personalities involved and supporters on both sides.

It was also a hugely worrying and uncertain time for the 80 people who work at the medical centre.

In the end, Dorset NHS had no option but to appoint Dr Forbes Watson, who runs the Lyme Medical Practice at Kent House, to hold the fort whilst going through the process of appointing new operators for the £4.5 million a year contract.

It would seem that there is at least a period of stability at the centre whilst NHS Dorset plan for the future.

The reason Mr Dixon has spoken out so strongly about the future of medical services in and around Lyme Regis is to encourage local people to make sure they have their say on how the medical centre is run in the future. 

There has already been a meeting between the Primary Care Trust and local bodies and now the public are being invited to a meeting on March 8th to put forward their views and question NHS officials on their plans.

Mr Dixon puts forward ll key issues which he believes the residents of Lyme should be calling for to ensure that people are put before profit.

Mr Dixon rightly recognises that the medical centre is “a wonderful and unique asset to the town and surrounding areas” but comments on the fact that little has been said publicly to date about the future and that “we seem to be sleepwalking into an uncertain future”.

The people of Lyme, who own a chunk of the medical centre through the League of Friends,  could have a big influence on that future and that is why it is important that there is a good turn out at the public meeting on March 8th.

Burly bodyguards baffle Broad Street

IT was not the sort of tip-off I usually receive. “Get up the town quick. There’s four burly bodyguards in Broad Street,” said my informant. Usually tip-offs go something like this: “Do you know there’s a coffee morning on at the Masonic Hall?”

So I shot up the town (actually a slow amble might be more accurate). And lo and behold, there they were. All dressed in dark suits with black ties, speaking sereptiously into their sleeves and clearly wired up with earpieces. 

Broad Street was agog. “Who are they?” people kept asking. “Who are they protecting?” I thought it might be a reccy for a royal visit but clearly not. 

Whoever they were protecting was doing a bit of retail therapy. A middle aged woman emerged from Liberty & Family Ltd and was hustled into a waiting non-descript car. A Vauxhall. No limo and definitely no tinted glass. I didn’t recognise her and not wishing to be unkind, she was not dressed in a fashion that would lead anybody to believe she was anybody.

I approached one of the bodyguards and asked whether he could tell me what they were doing. I got short shrift.

The car, with an grey-haired chap in the back, sped off with two more following. They went for lunch at Largigi on the seafront and then went over to Bridport where there were more sightings.

I appreciate it’s the job of a newspaper to inform and chase these things down but we have not been able to find out anything about this bizarre interlude. Someone suggested they were on  a training exercise. But who are “they”? 

Not the foggiest.


I’VE written many times in this column about how lucky Lyme Regis is to have such talented stage performers. 

The two shows presented by the Operatic Society (Me And My Girl) and the Pantomime Society (Sinbad The Sailor) last year were among two of the best amateur shows I have ever seen - and believe me I’ve sat through some rubbish over the years. And we all know that the dramatic society is capable of performances of a consistently high standard. Add to this the recent contributions of Between Courses at the Marine Theatre and I would venture to say that there are few towns in the West Country with more theatrical talent.

Last week I covered two pantomimes - one in Honiton and one in Lyme (which to be candidly blunt is a bit beyond the cause of duty). But to be honest I quite enjoy reviewing local amateur shows, not only in Lyme but around the area. The other local papers don’t seem to bother much these days so it gives us an edge.

Whilst the Lyme Panotime Society’s version of Little Red Riding Hood didn’t reach the heights of Sinbad The Sailor the previous year, it was nevertheless a good old fashioned panto and one that the kids in particular seemed to enjoy.

I appreciate those who who perform on the local stage do it because they have so much fun - but they also provide much enjoyment for those who enjoy a night out at the theatre and we should be grateful for that. 

In the absence of a community hall, the Honiton panto was staged on the stage at the local school. Which made me think how lucky Lyme is to still have the Marine Theatre where artistic directors Tim and Harry, manager Nigel Day and the Friends of the Theatre are working so hard to give the Marine a long-term future.

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