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9th October 2013

LYME REGIS: Up all night for a beach hut

RESIDENTS CAMP OUTSIDE COUNCIL OFFICES

FOR FIRST ‘LOCALS ONLY’ BOOKING DAY

by Francesca Evans

LYME Regis residents camped outside the town council offices all night on Friday to ensure they were first in line to book their beach huts.

The town council held a residents-only booking day with 13 huts on offer for the first time on Saturday, opening at 9am. But some keen residents were in line long before the doors opened, camping out all night to ensure they got their desired slot in one of the in-demand huts.

In previous years, Lyme Regis Town Council has booked out all its Cart Road beach huts via a phone-line system, but several residents complained this was unfair, as they found it difficult to get through despite constantly dialling and thought local people should be given a priority.

Councillors agreed in September to set aside 13 huts for residents only, including three annual lets, seven winter lets and three 12-week summer packages with a special booking day before the main phone-line opens to everbody else on October 16th.

Council staff were expecting a busy morning but were surprised on arrival to find 20 residents already there, wrapped up warm having camped all night or since the early hours of the morning.

Town clerk John Wright said: “We understand that people stayed out all night. Obviously those that arrived early secured the bookings they wanted.

“There was an upbeat atmosphere among those who were waiting and we received positive feedback from those that we saw.

“We made 18 bookings on the day. We have never done a residents’ priority booking day before so we didn’t really know what to expect. However, the office was open until midday but we managed to deal with the queue by 11.30am.

“From the encouraging comments we received, at this point in time we will look to do the same thing next year.”

Among those camping out was octogenarian Audrey Vivian, whose family has enjoyed a beach hut during the summer months since 1985. Determined to continue the tradition, Mrs Vivian arrived at 11pm on Friday night and camped with about six people, getting no sleep, before more arrived at 5am leaving a total of about 20 waiting at the door.

She said: “It was quite pleasant under the archway and not a cold night. Everyone was kind and looked after each other. The only downside was there was no toilet facilities but it was no worse than camping for Glastonbury or Wimbledon.

“I’m just delighted I was able to do it, it makes a great difference to us having a beach hut in the summer.”

Mrs Vivian said she was pleased that the council had introduced a priority booking system for residents and thanked the town clerk who made the campers coffee when he arrived at 9am.

PICTURES: ALL-NIGHTERS - Octogenarian Audrey Vivian camped out all night to secure her regular beach hut. She was joined by several other keen residents (pictured below)

LYME REGIS: Up all night for a beach hutLYME REGIS: Up all night for a beach hut

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