Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Is the Pearl losing its gloss?
ARE the media darlings falling out of love with Lyme Regis?
I am prompted to ask this question after noticing that “the Pearl of Dorset” failed to make the Sunday Times’ Top 101 places to live in Britain.
When national publications trot out such lists, Lyme usually features somewhere.
A few years back I think it was The Sun which named Lyme as the most romantic place in the country and the town council made good publicity capital out of it.
But we failed to creep into the Sunday Times’ Best Places To Live In Britain.
The Times admitted selecting the Top 101 was a challenge. They said their intention was to “celebrate real towns for real people”, whatever that means. Their methodology relied on lots of hard data about crime rates, house prices and school performances, as well as the expertise of their writers, a team of select bloggers and the views of their readers who were asked to tweet their thoughts.
We would have surely met part of the criteria: we are virtually crime free in Lyme and we have good schools. We may have scored a black mark on house prices as in another list published not so long ago we were in the top five of the most expensive resorts to live in England and Wales.
Perhaps we just didn’t tweet enough.
So which towns and villages near us did get themselves into the Top 101?
Branscombe, just eight miles down the Devon coastline topped the South West locations with the adjudicators apparently impressed by it having the longest street (surely that should be lane) in Devon, two pubs and its own brewery.
Hang on minute, take a look at our main street. And we have two breweries.
Sherborne also did well and it would be difficult to argue The Times’ view that it is a “drop-dead gorgeous” town.
I’m not sure that appearing on such lists has any real benefit to a town like ours. After all, Lyme gets more than its fair share of positive coverage in the national press and I for one count my blessings every day that I am able to live and work in Dorset’s unrivalled “Pearl”.
The West End comes to Lyme Regis…
I”M not a great cinemagoer. I think the last full feature film I saw at The Regent was 'Gandhi'.
This is clearly a character flaw for we are so lucky to have The Regent in Lyme, said to be the smallest town in the country with a year-round cinema.
Like most Lyme-born boys, I did go to the flicks regularly as a youngster, often on Saturday mornings when there was usually a cartoon followed by a cowboy film.
As we got older most locals would go on a Sunday night when it often got quite rowdy and the owner, Donald “Spike” Hardy, would invariably have to interrupt the main feature and get up on stage to warn us about our unrully behaviour.
Going home down Sherborne Lane it was custom for one of us to be pushed through the door of undertaker Boswell’s spooky house and then run all the way home.
I did, however, spend a brilliantly enjoyable night at The Regent recently to see the live streaming of the National Theatre’s stage version of 'War Horse' which is now playing all over the world to great acclaim.
Streaming live theatre shows into remote sites at community halls and cinemas is a recent innovation which is really catching on. The Regent, superbly refurbished now by Scott Cinemas,was packed for 'War Horse' and I understand that a number of similar screenings are planned for the future.
On a recent visit to London I nearly paid £86 a ticket to see a West End show. I think admission for 'War Horse' at The Regent cost around £13 - so the West End comes to Lyme at a fraction of the cost.
As I say, how lucky are we? A town of 3,500 population with its own 12-months a year cinema and a theatre that provides live entertainment all year round.
BY-ELECTION: AS predicted in my last column, there wil definitely be a by-election to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Daryl Turner. Ten electors called for an election, as is the requirement, and voting will take place on May 22nd at the same time as the Euro elections. The closing date for nominations is 4pm on Thursday, April 24th. I suspect the timing of Daryl’s departure was deliberate to coincide with the Euro elections so that his resignation did not place a financial burden on the electorate. Apparently, it costs around £5,000 to stage an election in Lyme and town clerk John Wright informs me the cost is met by West Dorset District Council, unlike East Devon where the cost is passed on to the parishes.
MAYORAL MANOEUVRES: Jockeying has already started over the appointment of the next mayor. Town councillors will be choosing the mayor elect at full council on Thursday, April 2nd. At least one councillor has started sounding out her colleagues about possible support and I know of one other who is also considering putting his name forward. The big question is whether last year’s defeated candidate, Chris Clipson, will try again and there’s a rumour circulating the town that the present mayor, Sally Holman, may even be offered a fourth term. If that is the case, she would become only the second councillor to do so - the uber-popular Henry Broom served for four years in the 1970s.