Decision on Christian group's beach activities won't be held in public

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: CONTENTIOUS: United Beach Missions (UBM) comes to Lyme every summer to run a programme of activites CONTENTIOUS: United Beach Missions (UBM) comes to Lyme every summer to run a programme of activites

LYME Regis Town Council has faced criticism again over discussing business behind closed doors.

Councillors on the town management committee had initially decided to hold a public discussion on whether to allow the United Beach Missions (UBM) to return to the town’s beaches this summer.

They then backtracked and decided to discuss the item behind closed doors after moving the contentious decision on the Christian group into exempt business.

United Beach Missions (UBM) comes to Lyme every summer and runs a programme of games, quizzes, singing, competitions and Bible stories specifically for children on the town’s beaches.

Last year, the issue proved controversial as the issue arose of whether it was suitable or not to allow the UBM on the beaches due to its religious links.

Cllr Anita Williams said: “Why are we dealing with this in exempt business.

“We haven’t done that before in previous years. Why are we doing it now?

“There are no competitors to the tenders, no one else is also bidding for the tenders so we are just talking about the activities they are doing.

“It’s the concept we need to discuss, whether they want to have a trampoline or deck chairs.

Operations manager Elliott Herbert told the chamber it had been placed under exempt business by the council because it contained commercially sensitive information, and the council were trying to find a “standard format” to deal with items like this.

Cllr Williams added: “I don’t think we can have this discussion in exempt business and retain credibility.

“I think we should have that discussion in public.”

Cllr Holman said: “I would like to do things in public, but this we might be discussing whether it could be for one year or three years.

“I am going to have to propose that this is dealt with in exempt business.

“I don’t like that but that’s the only way we can deal with it tonight.”

Cllr Michaela Ellis added: “I’m concerned that there are some implications that are confidential.

“I’m in two minds because of some of the things written down, I’m not sure if I should be in the room or not.”

Cllr Williams and Cllr Ann Bradbury voted against the proposal to take it into exempt business, with Cllr Ellis abstaining, but it was voted through by majority.

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