The right decision for Lyme
I’M all in favour of Lyme Regis Town Council taking on extra repsonsibility and and having more control over local services.
I’ve never thought it was practical or ecomonimally viable to run purely local services such as the operating of public toilets from a desk 24 miles down the road in Dorchester.
The Coalition Government’s much-vaunted Localism Bill is supposed to shift power from central government back into the hands of individuals, communities and local councils. I am sure this will provide greater opportunities for Lyme council and I hope they will have the confidence to take what comes their way.
Of course, we have to be convinced that our council is willing and able to take on more responsibility and although I am quick to highlight their frailties, I do believe in their commitment and determination to do what is best for Lyme and its people.
I was all in favour of the town council taking back the lucrative Monmouth Beach car park, even though the district council had made it entirely clear if they did so, they (WDDC) would probably stop funding the Tourist Information Centre and the town’s public toilets.
Whilst that might have smacked of being a bit like blackmail, you can’t deny that it was a good negotiating tactic.
As reported on our front page, tonight (Wednesday) town councillors are likely to approve a new three-year lease for the district council (their last one was for ten years). The town council has also made it clear they will be taking back the Monmouth Beach car park, where revenues exceed £250,000 a year, in 2015.
This seems to be a wise move. Both councils know where they stand and they have three years to plan for the day when that revenue returns to the town council coffers.
There was one other crucial element in coming to this agreement. Had the town council proceeded with their intention to take back the car park, they would have had to pay the district council £93,000 incompensation under the Landlord and Tenant Act, a sum of money which would have been hard to find in the current period of austerity.
The new three-year deal wiill be outside the Lanlord and Tenant Act and therefore Lyme will not have to pay this sum when the new lease expires.
Whilst the takings at the Monmouth car park exceed a quarter of a million pounds, not all of this would go to the council’s bottom line.
The town council receives £77,500 in rent for the land and then there is maintenance and staffing costs, not to mention what it would cost if the town council had to fund the TIC and town toilets.
The relationship with WDDC in previous negotiations has not always been the most cordial. But an insider tells me that Lyme’s negotiaing team, led by the mayor, Sally Holman, and strategy and policy chairman Mark Gage, acted in a responsible but fair manner at all times.
They are to be congratulated for finding a sensible solution to this long-running issue, which is in the interest of both authorities, while giving themselves breething space to prepare for the ultimate return of an extremely valuable asset in three years.