Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Ideas? Not on the council

IT IS not a good idea having good ideas if you are a councillor. They rarely reach fruition and those which do very often don’t last.

If you are a councillor and a bit of a ideas person, life can be very frustrating. I only had one good idea (at least that’s all I can remember) when I served on the council. I’m claiming that it was me who suggested we put table tennis tables in the Lister Gardens, although I am sure someone out there will deny me the privilege.

I remember it well. I had not long been a councillor when I took my young family to Bournemouth for the day and we played a game of table tennis (real name whiff whaff according to Boris Johnson).

I was really keen on table tennis as a youngster, and on a couple of occasions I played for Dorset Boys’ Clubs.

At the next council meeting I suggested that we should buy a couple of tables and to this day the table tennis tables in our public gardens are well used and, I suppose, over the years have brought in a fair bit of money.

I can’t remember having another good idea; well I can but I never got another one accepted.
Not much to show for my time on the council.

Outdoor table tennis tables are now all the rage and the government has even set up a fund for local communities to apply for a bit of cash to buy one. So perhaps Lyme was ahead of its time.

I got to think about this when I read on page 5 that Rikey Austin had come up with what seemed like a good idea - but won little support.  Rikey is an ideas person - she bristles with them. 

Rikey suggested that the council should publish an activity book for kids but this ventured into very dangerous territory for a council - the world of commerce.

I think it’s probably best for councils to stick to telling us how to run our lives rather than helping us to live them.

It’s a lesson that councillors quickly learn but Rikey was not to be deterred.  She’s agreed to look at the costings a bit more closely and to report back.

That means it will probably be 2015 before a proposal is finally thrashed out. 

That’s how it is in local government. With all their good intentions to be seen to be making a difference, it’s a lesson the new councillors have had to take on board. Sometimes you can smell the frustration in the council chamber.

I hope Rikey doesn’t give up - and I’m sure she has a dozen or so more good ideas up her sleeve. One day one of them will hit the jackpot and I do hope it’s a better one than outdoor table tennis.

Actually, I did come up with another good idea (well, I thought it was) a couple of years ago.   I suggested to the council that the redundant area of land behind the mini-golf hut be turned into a boules piste.

On behalf of our Cancer Research UK branch, I even offered to get the work done free of charge and then share the revenue with my favourite charity.

We even had a site meeting. Since then... well it’s probably still in the pending file. But I’ve not given up hope!


I MISSED one of my favourite events of the year on Sunday - the annual Easter Day bonnet parade, having been laid low by a stomach bug.

But my daughter Francesca was there, as ever, covering it for the View and acting as a judge, which she loves.

And she tells me it was just as popular as ever, with huge crowds turning out to see the various creations. 

I well remember the first bonnet parade, organised by Barbara Austin 12 years ago. Barbara wanted to add a bit of community spirit to the Easter holiday but no one then would have thought that all these years later the event would still be so successful, attracting entries and spectators from far and wide.

Barbara has got together a small team of helpers, including the wonderfully creative Judith Pothecary who brings a real touch of class to all the events she supports.

The great thing about the Easter bonnet parade is that it is such a family event. Every year you see sons and daughters returning home with their own children with grandad often being roped in as well. 

It’s one of those events that make Lyme what it is and to Barbara and all those who work so hard we owe a great deal of gratitude.

Now for the summer...

Beach Mission in the public forum

I HAVE no idea how town councillors will vote tonight when they consider whether to let the United Beach Mission continue visiting Lyme during the summer months.

It was a brave decision by Councillor Mark Gage to raise concerns about the operation of the UBM, followed by a very eloquent commentary on whether the council should be allowing such activity from resident John Bartholomew.

I suspect Councillor Gage and Mr Bartholomew were expressing what many others, Christians and non-Christians were thinking.

Having grown up seeing the UBM on the beach every year, like many other locals I kind of got used to them and gave their presence no real thought.

But I do think the council has done the right thing in bringing the matter into the public forum and having met them to suggest certain conditions.

Sorry, Brendon!

I KNEW I would be in trouble when I was asked to write something positive about what a great place Lyme Regis was for foodies.

I did my best to mention all the main establishments but, of course, I could not mention all the cafes and tea rooms. But I did acknowledge their importance to the culinary delights of Lyme.

Whilst I mentioned the Bay Hotel for its fine restaurant, I omitted it from the list of Lyme’s principal hotels, thus offending my old football pal, the owner, Brendon Cable. That was remiss of me and quite unintentional. 

The Bay, of course, is Lyme’s only seafront hotel and Brendon and Lyn, who are having a bit of a tough time with the council at the moment, have an establishment of which they are rightly proud. 

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