Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Everything comes before sport in Lyme

AM I misguided in thinking that Lyme Regis is one of the poorest equipped towns in Dorset when it comes to the provision of sport?

I admit my view might just be tinged by life-long association with sporting Lyme and the fact that I spent thousands of many hours trying to deliver better facilities at the Strawberry Field to no avail.

Our current town council have said they would like to see some sort of recreational facilities at the Strawberry Field but there’s been very little serious consideration to what this may be.

Rumours persist that some councillors want to move the bowling club from its iconic setting on Monmouth Beach to the Charmouth Road site.

In my mind that would be a great shame, as it’s one of the few sporting activities available to Lyme’s senior generation.

In any case, cost would be a prohibitive factor in  my mind.

Lyme must be the only resort in Dorset that does not have its own municipal tennis courts or tennis club. Successive town councils have failed to deliver the initial promise when the Woodmead Halls courts were dug up for what was mistakenly called the Lyme Regis Leisure Centre before reverting to its community hall basis.

The town council has been hugely supportive in making sure the town’s youngsters are well catered for with investment of more than £100,000 in The Hub youth club and another £150,000 earmarked for the new skatepark.

Hopefully, the new council when it is elected might turn its ambitions to doing more for the town’s sporting fraternity. One can be forgiven for thinking that everything at the moment comes before sport in Lyme.

One area that needs addressing is the lack of sporting facilities for women. The Strawberry Field would have rectified that with tennis courts and netball facilities.

The Strawberry Field provides the only opportunity for new facilities but it’s a difficult site - and an extremely costly one to develop for a small town.

Playing into hands of ‘I told you so’ brigade

I’M disappointed that Lyme Regis Town Council decided to take the easy way out and lease the best community room in the new Marine Parade shelters for yet another seafront cafĂ©.

As the first person to recognise their commercial value, and having used them in successive years since their opening to raise £1,000 every year for Cancer Research UK, it’s a shame our councillors didn’t have the gumption to make them financially viable.

Their inclusion in the regenerated shelters was not universally popular, with many locals thinking that there were enough rooms to hire out in Lyme already. I never subscribed to that view and our Cancer Research UK events have proved they can be a great attraction. 

Having finally decided to putting the Lister Room out for lease and converting the Langmoor Room into a classroom, they have finally succumbed to the “I told you so brigade” who said it would never work.

What efforts did the almost moribund tourism committee make to market these rooms properly?

The rooms have some of the most stunning views in Lyme Bay and it didn't take a GCSE in marketing to work out that some corporate groups would be prepared to pay a realistic hire charge for seminars, entertaining and staff incentives. Was any initiative taken to tap into this market?

Also, it was a real mistake offering the rooms so cheaply to charities, no matter how magnanimous.  When I book the Woodmead Halls or Uplyme Village Hall for Cancer Research events, I pay the going rate, which is how it should be and we always make a profit. 

We will, of course, find another way to replace that £1,000 lost - because that’s what we do. 

But we won’t find anywhere half so attractive.

The only way is up for Daryl

CONGRATULATIONS to Lyme Regis county councillor Daryl Turner who has just been appointed to one of the authority’s top chairmanships.

Daryl, county member for the Marshwood Vale, also represents Lyme on the West Dorset District Council but regrettably was virtually forced to resign from the town council when they were at the waring worst.

Daryl, a county councillor for less than two years, has made a rapid rise up the ladder at County Hall,  having just been appointed to the chairmanship of the important Environmental Overview Committee, which keeps a close watch on such vital services as economic development, coastal management, tourism and public health. I can’t remember another Lyme county councillor who has made such an impression at the seat of Dorset government in such a short time.

What a shame his knowledge of local government was not used to its best effect when he served on the town council, especially as it lacks so much experience. 

But don’t fret, Daryl could well be on his way back as he has confirmed in this newspaper that he will definitely be putting himself forward for a town council seat in the May elections.

And if he does not get in I will eat a whole packet of Rikey Austin’s Fruit Pastilles, which she so generously dispenses at council meetings, which will send my sugar levels as well as my blood pressure sky high!

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