AFTER 13 years Lyme Regis Town Council is preparing to take back control of the Monmouth Beach car park – and net the town more than £150,000 a year in the process.
West Dorset District Council had a 10-year lease to run the lucrative car park which expired in 2012, but the town council agreed to extend it for three years to avoid a £93,000 penalty and to guarantee the district council would go on funding the tourist information centre and town toilets until at least 2015.
Although the town council thought about renewing the lease for three years in 2012 they were keen to ensure the future of the TIC and toilets.
Councillor Mark Gage, who helped negotiate the new terms, said in 2013 that the district council had made it clear taking the car park would involve a substantial risk to the future of the TIC and toilets.
It was a risk town councillors were reluctant to take in a town so reliant on tourism.
He said at the time: “The TIC and toilets, which we would all agree are absolutely vital to the town, would face an uncertain future.”
He said the new agreement delivered three years of certainty and they had made sure the new lease had no penalty clause.
Councillor Lucy Campbell said in 2012: “I am not happy about the district council tying that car park to anything but I understand that it is not mandatory that they have to provide TIC and toilets.
“However the reality is I don’t want to see a town like this, that survives so heavily on tourism, end up with a TIC that’s open a couple of hours a week.”
Town councillors were due to consider the car park lease at their strategy and policy committee meeting last night.
They were also set to review leases for the boat park, harbourmaster’s store, Boat Building Academy car park, the power boat, gig and bowling clubs and the Cabanya car park, most of which expire next year.
Currently the town council gets an income of £1,000 from the Power Boat Club, £4,500 from the Lyme Bay Marine Centre for the area in front of the Boat Building Academy, £1,000 from the gig club, £11,600 from the bowling club, and £2,600 from the harbourmaster’s store.
The district council has embarked on a three-year review of its services in the light of reductions in government grants.