CALLS were made for Lyme Regis Town Council to take “emergency action” as the town’s infrastructure struggled to cope with the number of visitors over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Hoards of holidaymakers arrived in the resort for the start of half term and the annual Lyme Regis Jazz Blues Festival to find the park and rides closed, no functioning free cash points and the women’s toilets shut down on Marine Parade. There were also problems with the new beach showers as the on/off buttons became jammed.
Residents took to social media to criticise the problems, with one saying there might as well have been ‘Lyme Closed’ signs on the entrances of the town. Others expressed concerns for the effect the problems would have on local traders – particularly the lack of cash points – describing the situation as “a mess” and calling for the town council to take emergency action.
Lloyds Bank closed earlier this month leaving the town with just one free ATM outside Tesco Express, but this was out of order for part of the Bank Holiday weekend. Although cash points are not the responsibility of the town council, many residents have turned to the authority to provide a solution and town councillor Jeff Scowen called for the council to “get our act together on this one”.
Deputy town clerk Mark Green commented: “It is unacceptable there were no working cash points in the town over the Bank Holiday weekend and understandably this has caused a lot of frustration and inconvenience for residents, visitors and businesses.
“Although it is not the responsibility of local authorities to provide cash machines, the council realises this is a major concern in the town and would like to help find a solution.”
Residents and businesses are currently being encouraged to use banking services available at the post office, which is also offering free cash withdrawals. There is also a cash point in the Amusement Arcade on Marine Parade, but this charges for transactions.
The female public toilets on Marine Parade, which are operated by Lyme Regis Town Council, were closed over the weekend and currently remain closed. Mr Green commented: “Some problems arose with the ladies toilets on Marine Parade on Thursday and temporary measures were put in place to keep half of the cubicles open over the Bank Holiday weekend and half term week. However, this proved to be unsuccessful and the council had no choice but to close the ladies toilets over the weekend.
“The toilets remain closed while officers investigate the possibility of further temporary measures, including the short-term provision of good quality mobile toilets. It is likely a more comprehensive solution will be required to resolve the issues permanently and members will be considering this issue at a committee meeting in the near future.”
The toilets at the Woodmead Halls have been opened to the public for half term to help alleviate the issue.
The park and rides have also not yet opened this year. The town council is currently awaiting the outcome of a planning application to continue using the Sidmouth Road site as a park and ride, to be decided by East Devon District Council, as the land lies just across the county border, but the application has received several objections, including from Uplyme Parish Council and the district councillor for Uplyme.
The council also does not have a bus operator for the service, as the previous operator ceased trading in December.
Mr Green said: “The council has applied for planning permission to continue the operation of a park and ride from Sidmouth Road but the application is as yet undetermined by East Devon District Council. Until that permission is hopefully given, the council cannot operate a park and ride.
“Furthermore, the previous bus operator has gone out of business and although officers have had discussions with several local bus companies, a new operator cannot be put in place until the park and ride is permitted to operate from Sidmouth Road.
“Charmouth Road park and ride operates during the six weeks of the summer holidays and the planning permission restricts use to this period, only.”