Wednesday, 8 May 2013

It’s joined up government we want

FOR those who have little interest in the mechanics of local government (and that’s the majority), there is nothing more frustrating in seeing their street dug up and repaired one day, only for another gang of workmen to do the same just a few days later.

It happens all the time. During our last cold snap the people of Lyme were astonished to see the county gritting lorry spreading sand on the icy roads only for the district council mechanical sweeper to gather it all in a few hours later.

Such actions, repeated thousands of times up and down the country, led to calls for “joined-up local government”. 

Sometimes there is no communication between departments on a council, let alone between different authorities and utility providers. The cost to the nation must run into billions.

But this is not a Dorset disease; it’s the same wherever you go. On a visit to Ireland last week our hosts bemoaned the fact that the holes in the roads were never repaired and that the services from their local councils were in dreadful decline. We may think it’s bad over here. You only need to be in Ireland for a few hours to realise how tough life is there. The Irish, however, keep smiling through adversity as they have always done but few if any of them think the politicians know what they are doing.

The requirement for “joined-up thinking” among our local councils  was clearly abandoned last week when that massive building site appeared on the Marine Parade with scaffolding cantilevering onto the Cart Road.

After years of argument and discussion, the ownership of various areas of the seafront was agreed last year in a tripartite agreement between the town, district and county councils. 

The town council is now responsible for the Marine Parade whilst the first section of the Cart Road (lower promenade) is the responsibility of the county council as it is an adopted highway.

The builder was given permission for the scaffolding to bridge the parade but did not inform the town council and only let the traders know a few days in advance.

The county council issued a typically pathetic statement saying they were in conversation with the town council over the  issue. 

That was news to the town council, or least to most of their members.

We are led to believe that the scaffolding will stay in place through the summer months until November. 

Town councillors would have surely attempted to have entered into negotiations with the owner of the property or their builders to have made arrangements for the work to have been carried out of season, an opportunity that no longer exists.

Election yomping paid off for Daryl 

CONGRATULATIONS to Daryl Turner on winning the Marshwood Vale seat on Dorset County Council, of which Lyme is a major part,  held for the past 12 years by Colonel Geoffrey Brierley.

Commiserations to those who were not successful, especially Lyme’s other candidate Pat Hicks, who was standing for the Liberal Democrats.

Daryl, a member of the town council and West Dorset District Council, used to be a Lib Dem but abandoned them for the Tories when he was unhappy with their policies.

It was a brave if not controversial decision but one which has clearly paid off for the Lyme-born man who enjoyed a successful career in the Army before returning to his home town.
Daryl is now a well established Conservative member at district council level and I am sure he will soon make his mark at County Hall.

It was rumoured that he might stand down from the town council - serving on all three councils is indeed a major commitment - but I hope Daryl stays at least until the end of the current council term (2015). 

He’s not frightened to ask the difficult question and his experience would be sadly missed should he decide that he’s not able to give enough time to the town council.

Although Daryl attracted fewer votes than his predecessor, he did increase the Tory majority in Marshwood Vale from 597 to 636. He did it by good old fashioned politicking - getting out into his patch, meeting voters and putting in a lot of foot slogging. 

As my old mum used to say, everything comes to those who work hard.


THIS is hardly an earth-shattering event for Lyme - or indeed one that matters to the town. But it matters to me greatly, so perhaps you will forgive some personal indulgement. I am a very happy man.

My eldest daughter Zoe, who used to work for the View from as a designer but now lives in  Melbourne, announced her engagement to a charming young Irish man, Barry Cunningham. Jackie and I celebrated by spending a few days in the Emerald Isle, visiting Barry’s parents, Paul and Carmel Cunningham, who live in Galway, a beautiful city.

Whilst Lyme baked in summer temperatures, we endured some typical Irish weather, but the scenery was dramatic and stunning, especially when we travelled through the Connemara Mountains.

Our trip across the Irish sea was planned for several weeks ago when we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary but we had to postpone our visit because of work commitments. 

I have flown in and out of Dublin many times on business but have never travelled over to the west coast before. 

We were treated to some very typical Irish hospitality and thoroughly enjoyed getting together with members of the family Zoe will be marrying into. 

We were sorry to miss the Bank Holiday events in Lyme, especially the Fossil Festival and May Fete, but sometimes family has to come first. This was one of those occasions (to my shame they have been rare over the years) when I was able to put family before work.

It was good to hear from Francesca, though, when we returned home that both events had been great successes. Well done to those who worked so hard to achieve that.

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