Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Here’s your chance to fire ten questions at the town council election candidates

AFTER the four most stormy years in the history of Lyme Regis Town Council, during which time members were warned twice about their unacceptable behaviour by the town clerk, the electorate will be keen to see who is standing for election on May 7th.

Nomination papers have to be submitted tomorrow (Thursday) and will be published on our website - - on Friday as well as in next week’s issue of the View from Lyme Regis.

Of the 14 existing councillors, five have publicly stated they intend to seek re-election. These are: Owen Lovell, Stan Williams, Anita Williams, Michaela Ellis and Cheryl Reynolds.

Three serving members have stated that they do not intend to seek-relection: George Symonds, Lorna Jenkin and Terry O’Grady.

Six councillors have not revealed whether they intend to offer their services or not: Mayor Sally Holman, Mark Gage, Lucy Campbell, Chris Clipson, Rikey Austin and Ann Bradbury.

It is expected that there will be an election for the 14 seats, with a number of people saying they are considering standing, the most high profile being district and county councillor Daryl Turner who resigned from the council after being forced to apologise to a member of staff for alleged “aggressive” behaviour, and former dog warden Derek Hallett.

Daryl and George Symonds currently serve on West Dorset District Council and both intend to seek re-election to this authority.

A number of readers have contacted us in recent weeks to ask how they can find out what those seeking their vote really want to achieve as a councillor and their views on local issues.

The traditional way for councillors to make their views known is to issue an election address and deliver to every letterbox in town.

Not all candidates are able to do this due to a number of reasons, including disability. There could be as many as 18 candidates for the council’s 14 seats so making personal contact to question all of them would be a big task.

Although Amnesty International are getting all the parliamentary candidates together, there are no plans for a hustings for the local election, in which voters can turn up and fire questions at their would-be councillors. Even if there was, there would be no guarantee that all candidates would attend.

In a bid to provide some information on the candidates’ intentions and ambitions, the View from Lyme Regis will be send an email/letter to all candidates asking them to respond to a number of questions on issues that have caused the most controversy during the term of the outgoing council.

Of course, there is no guarantee that all of them will respond. When we sent an email to all existing councillors to ask them whether they were standing again, the Gang of Five refused to reply, such is their animosity towards this newspaper.

In past elections we have published a photo of each candidate with 200 words of text about why they are standing. Some newspapers dropped this method years ago  because of the pressure on editorial space and the repetitive nature of the replies.

So with so much interest in this election we have decided to ring the changes. We are also asking you, dear reader, to put 10 questions to your councillors. Each question should not be longer than 30 words. We will then collate the top ten responses and print them in our columns.  

Readers could then keep these answers and hold the councillors to account if they fail to live up to their responses.

Let me list my top ten faux pas in the council chamber these past couple of years:
  • Election of the mayor by her own casting vote;
  • The mayor being allowed to serve for more than two years when another councillor was willing to stand;
  • Councillors being able to eat sweets throughout meetings;
  • The poor support by councillors for civic and local functions;
  • The complete financing of the skateboard park by the town council and the decision not to seek grant aid as has happened in all surrounding towns;
  • The decision to lease out a community room in the Jubilee Pavilion when they were built for community use;
  • The refusal to release details of the contract price for work at Monmouth Beach following substantial slippage of the cliff;
  • Voting for vested interests when allocating grants to local organisations;
  • Not protecting the free passage of pedestrians on the seafront when considering by-laws;
  • Accounting errors which allowed The Hub to receive £10,000 it was not entitled to, and salaries paid into the wrong staff accounts. I could go on...

Send your questions to the View from Lyme Regis offices at St Michael’s Business Centre, Church Street or email them to

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