Wednesday, 18 September 2013
Yet again, Lyme punches above its weight
LYME Regis has enjoyed a monumental summer. Glorious weather (at last) and nose-to-tail festivals that has seen the town attract record numbers.
After the the appalling weather last year, the summer of 2013 certainly made amends as Lyme yet again punched above its weight.
The Fossil Festival retained its reputation as a world-acclaimed event. Centering the Jazz and Blues Festival around the Marine Theatre seemed to work and the event covered its cost for the first time for several years. Hopefully, it will now survive and prosper again.
And it did provide what I thought was the quote of the summer from the great Gino Washington who last appeared in Lyme in the late 1960s. Looking disntinctly bleary eyed, he was heard to say: “Have I been here before”? He put on a great show.
Lifeboat Week attracted its usual massive crowd and although the Red Arrows had to curtail their manoeuvres because of low cloud, it did not detract from the popularity of the week and the event was yet again another huge financial success for the RNLI.
The Regatta and Carnival is a favourite of mine and the committee came up yet again with their usual mix of family entertainment by the seaside and seems to get more popular every year.
New arrivals this year were the crab and mackerel festival, organised superbly by Jo Harris, from the Hix organisation.
Lyme Lympics with its crazy games on the Cobb Beach, organised by the irrepressible Hugh Dunford-Wood, prompted letters of praise to this newspaper from visitors and looks like becoming a summer favourite.
And as summer drew to a close thefirst ever Lyme Folk weekend painted the town orange, bringing some of the top names in folk music to Lyme for the first time.
The weekend was organised by Jerry Hayes and Geoff Hughes, who live in Uplyme, helped by a team of volunteers, and they get my vote as the Summer of 2013 “Men of The Moment”.
And then there was Guitars On The Beach. An ingenious idea that only Geoff Baker could have dreamed up and delivered with such flair, providing a late-season boost as thousands descended on Lyme to make up Britain’s Biggest Band.
I have had a hand in one way or other in most of the big events (excluding Lifeboat Week) over the past 40 years. Coupled with the Food Rocks Festival, this was by far one of the most unusual, generating publicity that money just can’t buy.
For five months Lyme has hardly stopped to draw breath but following a comment made by the mayor at a recent tourism meeting, has the time come to concentrate a little more on quiet Lyme?
It’s a debate that may well dominate the coffee shops in town in the weeks to come and one to which the View from Lyme will be paying attention during the winter months.
MEANWHILE, back on the set of 'Carry On Council' at the Guildhall... it’s been a difficult summer for our elected representatives, some might even say embarassing.
The August meeting turned out to be a total farce when it had to be abandoned for the first time in living memory over some administrative slip-up. It was also the meeting when the toilet roll in the Guildhall loo was replaced with sheets of the View from Lyme Regis.
As you can imagine, I was livid but soon calmed down to see the funny side to it.
In a sarky comment would-be council leader Mark Gage described me on his twitter feed (@manwithashed) as a local freesheet vendor. Hmm. Such withering criticism from one with such a glittering career.
So who was the perpetrator? That’s what everyone keeps asking me. I found out the following day but I’m afraid the answer to that question will have to wait for the book that all old journalists finally get around to writing.
The Mayor was magnanimous to apologise but it wasn’t necessary. No harm was done and all it did was highlight that the Guildhall is a place where respect counts for little.
Those who think they could save a few pennies by using the View from Lyme for similar purposes should be warned. It’s not an effective cost-saving measure. We use a very poor quality paper. The council minutes are printed on much sterner stuff.
I’m really into Twitter these days and I was interested to read Mark Gage’s profile. It says: “Interested in all shed related news, passionate Spurs fan, and hater of all things racist, royalist and Tory”.
Well at least we have one thing in common. I used to be a vice-president at White Hart Lane. Any time you want a ticket, Mark, you’ve only got to ask.
Yes, we do need more councillors of Jill’s calibre
LYME may be going to the polls in November if more than one person puts themselves foward to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Jill Newton.
I’m sorry Jill decided to stand down, especially as I was influential is persuading her to stand and signed her nomination paper.
After taking her seat unopposed, Jill soon recognised the atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion that pervades the Guildhall these days.
But she certainly made her mark, especially when she described the meeting when councillors allocate grants to local organisations as a “disgrace to democracy”.
She got herself into hot water for expressing her views in this paper rather than in the council chamber, and I was accused of helping her to write her letter, which was certainly not the case.
Jill now feels she can do more good for the town by working outside the restraints of the council chamber and there are many in town who share this view.
Having lost one or two crucial votes at recent meetings, the voting pendulum has swung back in favour of the “we’re not the gang of five or mafia” group on the council.
It will be interesting to see whether they can boost their ranks with another like-minded member through the ballot box if there is an election.
Or will we get another candidate like Jill prepared to make a stand.
But as the mayor so appositely put it when Jill stood down, we need more people of her calibre on the council.