Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Riviera feel-good factor

IT WAS former mayor Victor Homyer who coined the phrase that the Marine Parade was the “shop window of Lyme Regis”.

No one who has worn the mayoral robes has spoken a truer word.

We are fortunate that the unique appeal of our seafront has been retained over the years, despite the many changes of recent times.

Strolling along the parade on Sunday morning to do my volunteering bit in the recently named Jubilee Pavilion, I commented to Francesca how lucky we were to live in Lyme.

“The Riviera of Dorset” was how I described it because there is now a real continental atmosphere about the seafront.

There was much huffing and puffing in the council chamber last week over the issue of tables and chairs on the seafront.

Down at the Cobb end, the traders have got used to the idea of paying for their al fresco dining facilities.
But because of the protracted discussions over the ownership of the Marine Parade, which has been going on for years, businesses at the other end have enjoyed free access to the great outdoors.

But now that the town council are firmly in charge of the seafront, licenses will be granted to all those placing table and chairs on the parade and a fee levied, making it fair for all (well, that’s the intention).

If my maths is right (and it rarely is) the council coffers will be boosted by around £8,000 a year.

But don’t expect your council tax to go down. With the responsibility for running the seafront they will also have to maintain the surface and railings and that could be quite costly.

The conclusion of the ownership issues also means that the town council will be able to manage the seafront more efficiently to ensure free passage for pedestrians.

There are those who would like to see all tables and chairs removed from the parade. I am not one of them.
The fact that people can sit out in the summer sunshine enjoying a meal, or just a drink, is a great attraction, particularly for visitors.

Providing such facilities is not a walk in the park, however. The two prime locations for al fresco dining are Largigi cafe and Thai restaurant and the Bay Hotel’s Bay Leaf restaurant, both housed on the former Bay Hotel site.

Both have had their problems with planners and getting the necessary permissions.

The Bay Hotel occupies the best location in Lyme with glorious views across the bay.

At the end of its days the former Bay Hotel with its unkempt extension became a bit of an eyesore and was crying out for refurbishment.

Since then hundreds of  thousands of pounds have been invested in the adjoining businesses, with a distinct benefit to the local economy.

Now the council are getting to grips with the management issues on the seafront, hopefully to the advantage of all.

Town must retain its unique appeal 

I’VE not come across one person in Lyme Regis  who has greeted the pending arrival of High Street giant WH Smith with anything other than disappointment.

I suppose we should be pleased that such a big store sees Lyme capable of sustaining such a business, and of course any new shop that offers permanent employment should be encouraged.

But there are real fears that this could be the start of the changing face of Broad Street.

Certainly, Acorn, the family-run shop that occupied the premises before being priced out of the town in a huge rent hike, will be greatly missed.

There are rumours that Costa Coffee and at least two other multi-nationals are interested in moving to Lyme, but do we want them?

No one wants Lyme’s main street to look like every other shopping centre in the land; it’s the quaintness and quirkiness of our shops that the visitors love.

It’s almost impossible to escape the march of commercialism these days but let’s hope that Lyme will always retain its unique character.

Twitter ye not...

THE use of mobile phones at council meetings is generally frowned upon but as this is the age of social networking I decided to tweet the main decisions taken at last week’s town council meeting as they were happening for the first time.

I’ve been using twitter to release Lyme stories as they happen (no personal stuff) for over a year now. In fact, I’ve tweeted over 800 different items which just goes to show much is going on in our town.

I’ve currently got 320 followers and if you want to join them go to


IT was back in September that we held the first public meeting to discuss the possibility of organising a weekend of activities in June to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

There was a consensus that we should mark this historic event and since then a steering committee has been meeting every month.

The time has just flown by and I can’t believe that the Jubilee weekend (June 2nd-5th) is just six weeks away.

Having years ago organised the Lyme 1200 celebrations and Charter 700 events, I have relished the opportunity of putting together a programme of over 30 different activities for the Jubilee.

I think we will be doing Her Majesty proud and the weekend will be a great coming together of the community.

The programme was officially launched by the Mayor, Councillor Sally Holman, who has led the steering group, at a supperdance we organised at the Woodmead Halls on Saturday evening.

We decided from the outcome that we would not burden the town council, particularly as some councillors are anti-royalty,  with paying for the various activities so we have set about raising £1,500 to meet the expenses.

We still have a few hundred quid to raise but I have no doubt we will get there.

Thanks to all those who supported Saturday’s supper dance. A nice occasion.

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