Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Stand by for an ‘eruption’ in the Guildhall

IF I had paid attention to more than just the girls’ legs when I was at Woodroffe, I would know my Latin and could tell you whether 2014 was an annus horribilis for Lyme Regis Town Council or whether it was the year in which the council fell on its annus, horribilisly.

Either way, it was a rough old time in the Guildhall and veteran council-watchers tell me that it was the worst year to be a councillor, what with all of that messy business of accusations, resignations, apologies and the howling over Mayorgate, Darylgate, Twittergate and Bicyclegate – let alone those controversial bailouts of The Royal Bank of Hubland which established a new world-first for the English language, that an “error” is not a “mistake”.

Stroll on. At times it’s been better than watching Buster Keaton. 

Who’d be a Lyme Regis town councillor these days, eh? It’s bad enough getting it openly in the neck with professional nit-pickers like me taking point-scoring to the level of religious fundamentalism, let alone getting defamed as some sort of hole-in-the-wall desperado on a poster commissioned by Cobb Gate’s Scarlet Pimpernel.  

But here’s the good news – if you thought the whole Chipperfields Circus of 2014 was lively, the word on Broad Street is that we ain’t seen nothing yet. For 2015 is set to be Lyme Regis Town Council’s annus eruptus.

Although Val at Boots can usually sell you something for that, rumour has it that we can look forward to a new blow-up; a volcanic power-struggle of such intensity that I’m already in negotiations with the British Boxing Board for the TV rights – for the talk in the town is that the council’s current ruling clique is going to be challenged by a completely new group, which I’m dubbing ‘the Lyme People’s Party’ as there’s no name for them yet. 

If the rumours are right, you can forget the “Gang of Five”, as the gangbusters are gathering and they are said to be offering no quarter to Lyme’s most popular quintet.

Although I am not one to put the cat amongst the pigeons, according to a highly-placed source within this new group, ‘a significant alliance of the Lyme-born and the town’s business elite’ are putting together an ace team of popular local personalities to stand against the radicals at the council elections in May.

“We want to get Lyme back for its people; we’ve had enough of the reformist agenda and we’re going to go back to the old tradition of doing things Lyme’s way,” is the sort of thing my source would say if I hadn’t lied when I promised not to quote him.

Apparently there is great concern among the Lyme People’s Party that elements of the council are believed to have their eye on authorising a massive development of the Monmouth Beach area, which would start with shifting the Bowling Green up to Strawberry Fields in order to free-up space for a huge double-deck car park. 

Ignoring the associated but wildly-optimistic trust that downhill bowling will catch on, clearly such an eviction would kill the sport in the town stone dead, ruining the enjoyment of many of the elder community. 

But that’s presumably OK because a Cabanya Carbuncle would give the council more money to do important stuff like fund the legal advice which appears to be sought every time that anyone in the right-on Guildhall says boo to a goose.

“But we’re not going to let it happen,” says my source within the LPP, “a lot of people in Lyme are fed-up to the back teeth with all of this argy-bargy in the Guildhall and they want to retain the traditional look of Lyme.

“We want a council that has the town’s respect, not its derision. We will stop all of this republican talk to replace the office of Mayor with an all-powerful Leader of the council, we will block any move to change the civic traditions and we will put up as candidates the sort of people who will ensure that.”

Oo-err, fighting talk.

Apparently, the LPP has plans to stop the not-exactly-transparent practice of committee chairmen meeting to discuss agendas before they are put to the rest of the councillors and it will end the council’s obsession with conducting so much of its meetings in secret, when the electorate are ejected like children shooed to bed before a re-run of The Exorcist.

The new group says it will also commit to put the needs of 42 per cent elderly majority of the town first, stop the whacking up of council rents because, stupid, that obviously drives up commercial rents and thus causes local inflation, disallow any arbitrary action by the staff and make it a lashing offence to permit a dog to pee in Manor Avenue.

I made up that last one, but you get the point; the LPP cavalry is coming and the battle at the election “to bring the power back to Lyme’s people” is going to be better than Harry May’s fireworks. 

My source says “several” well-known Lyme personalities are being groomed by the LPP to stand for the council and others are willing to throw their names into the hat if another rumour is true - that the massively-popular clique-smiter Daryl Turner is going to make a comeback and stand for the council again.

So, the questions that will now be burning holes into half-pint pots at The Nag’s Head are who is behind the Lyme People’s Party and who are the worthies now readying to stand for the seats that six of our current councillors are said to be wanting to give up? 

I wish I could say but I promised that I wouldn’t write a word…       

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