Uproar in the Chamber

From December 2007 Issue of Rye’s Own

There was uproar in a packed Council Chamber on Monday 12 November when a demand, in the form of a 60 person petition asking for an enquiry into the affairs of the Rye Partnership was discussed.

The petition was signed by many prominent people including a past Mayor of Rye and several past District and Town Councillors.

Christopher Strangeways, on behalf of the visitors, requested that the discussion of the subject be brought forward “While everyone was still fresh”. A vote by Councillors backed up the suggestion and the agenda was amended.

Councillor Bantick’s Condemnation

Councillor Granville Bantick condemned the Partnership fairly comprehensively, citing failures, particularly to do with the Library, the Fish Processing area at the Fishmarket, and for the overall lack of accountability. During his speech Councillor Bantick was interrupted by Partnership Chairman, County Councillor Keith Glazier with cries of “Not correct” and even threats to sue. The Mayor, Councillor Paul Osborne intervened to allow Councillor Bantick to conclude his speech with a proposal that the Town Council should forward the petition on to the Audit Commission or a similar body, with their own recommendation that an investigation into the Partnerships affairs should take place.

“Why I Resigned” Sam Souster

Councillor Sam Souster explained that during his time as Partnership Chairman the affairs were run correctly and he produced documents relating to the successful grants that had been obtained by Rye Partnership during the period up to 2003. He explained that Councillor Bantick had got his facts wrong in many of the criticisms he had of the Partnership.

“I resigned from the Partnership in 2003 because I did not agree with the way things were going with the Library project”. He went on to say that “Things began to go wrong from that time”.

The Mayor Praises Partnership

The Mayor then recited a long list of good things that he remembered the Partnership achieving, he was eventually interrupted from the visitors gallery by Freddie Lees who objected to the Mayor’s one sided approach to the debate. Councillor Osborne gave way and invited Dr. Keith Taylor to speak. Dr. Taylor chairs the Library Committee and was particularly damning on the way Rye Partnership had “Failed the community” on the Library project. He claimed that the recent ‘disappearance’ of Town Manager Yolanda Layborne, the lack of straight answers as to why she had left, and the uncertainty of a replacement, made this a good time for the whole of the Rye Partnerships affairs to be put under scrutiny.

District Councillor David Russell had the latest news on the Central Garage site in Cinque Ports Street, now out of the Partnership’s control and being developed by the owner of the ground. “New plans are about to be submitted” said Councillor Russell. “For a Library on the ground floor and living accommodation above”.

Councillor Lorna Hall wanted to know the answer to a financial matter. “Ian Foster has asked me to query what happened to the remainder of a £20,000 grant that was made to the Bonfire Boys. It was to be delivered over two years and senior members of the Bonfire Society had signed official government and European papers confirming the amount. Mr. Foster claims that less than half of the sum was ever received and would like to know what has happened to the other £10,000 plus.”

Sara Nixon had been a director of the Partnership but resigned when the Fishmarket and Library projects were introduced. “I considered these to be well beyond the Partnerships capabilities. Up till then the smaller projects were very successful.” Sara wondered how the mortgages on the Companies properties stood and what the income that served as a cash flow produced at present.

Sue Drew requested to know when the Partnership was going to grant her a proper lease on the building she uses at the Fishmarket. “I have been asking the Partnership for over five years and still have not got an answer”.

County Councillor and Partnership Chairman, Keith Glazier
County Councillor and Partnership Chairman, Keith Glazier

Keith Glazier replied that matters were in hand and they were working out a system that would allow them to give her an answer in the immediate future.

“You Are A Bully Councillor Glazier!”

There were many questions being thrown at the Partnership Chairman, some relating to “improper A.G.M.s” and “missing accounts”.

“There are no missing accounts, we are probably the most audited business in town. I would welcome any enquiry from any direction.” He went on to say that “He recognised there had been mistakes made, mainly in public relations. We are putting this right. I want the Partnership to be completely transparent. I put many hours of unpaid time in my efforts to make Rye a better place.”

At this point there were even more questions and the Partnership Chairman turned on the public.

“You are always finding fault, never recognising the good things that have been done” he then antagonised them by refusing to take more questions, until Mrs. Blackman stood up and spoke to him directly.

“I have never been so disgusted by a Councillor’s actions before, you are a bully Councillor Glazier”.

Mrs. Blackman’s outburst obviously affected the Councillor, he immediately softened and was his affable self again. He went on to answer all questions in a conciliatory fashion.

Then it came to the vote. The first motion was lost but on Councillor Potter’s advice a proposal to delay the decision until the next meeting, to allow the petitioners time to gather a much larger number on their list, was seconded by Councillor Hall and carried by eleven votes with four abstentions.

The meeting, which started at 6.30pm. was still going strong way past 10pm. and was attended by far more public than the Annual Town Meeting has ever entertained. It seems as though Rye politics are coming alive again after many years of apathy by the public. Is this because the people of Rye are beginning to sense that some kind of real local decision making may be about to return to Rye Town Hall?

December 2007

Sprocket Page-Wheelers Dine


It was great to be ‘down by the Riverside’ with the Rye & District Wheelers on Thursday 8 November. Continue reading Sprocket Page-Wheelers Dine

They Took Over the Town Hall

Fed Up with ‘Jobs for the Boys’, Corruption and Discrimination the men of Rye Elected their own Mayor and Councillors and Took Over The Town Hall

By 1825 the Lamb family had dominated politics in Rye for 100 years,
providing the Mayor 23 times out of the 25 since the turn of the century,
most of the jurats and freeman were either family or supporters. This
had been achieved by the ‘Freeman’ system introduced in the days when
Rye played an important and very active part in building, maintaining
and manning the Cinque Ports Fleet. There were about 40 Freemen of
Rye and only a Freeman had a vote.

To become enfranchised there were only two ways. By birth as the eldest
surviving son of a Freeman or by election, one citizen a year was
voted in as a Freemen by Jurats and Freemen on Mayoring Day. Continue reading They Took Over the Town Hall

Words & Pictures by Frank Palmer


This year is the 150th anniversary of the ‘Alpine Club’ the worlds first mountaineering club. Today there are such clubs in many countries of the world.

Interest in mountains first started for Scientific reasons with Mont
Blanc the highest point of the European Alps at 15.780 ft. which was first climbed in 1786, after a number of failed attempts. Such expeditions were few and far apart, by 1825 only 17 parties had reached the summit. This 17th ascent is of interest to Rye in that it was undertaken by Dr. Edmund Clark, who was born in Rye in 1798, he was joined by a Captain Markham Sherwill for the climb, which was some 32 years before the foundation of the Alpine Club. Continue reading Words & Pictures by Frank Palmer

Earl Beatty – Freeman of Rye

By Frank Palmer

In January 1920 the First Sea Lord, Admiral Earl Beatty was admitted
to the honorary freedom of the Borough of Rye in appreciation of his
outstanding naval service during W.W.I. He succeeded Earl Jellicoe
as First Sea Lord, and was the youngest British Admiral since Nelson. Continue reading Earl Beatty – Freeman of Rye

Having Fun for Charity


Nice to see another local business getting involved with events in the town. Rush Witt & Wilson, the Estate Agents at the old Vidler’s building, have taken part in almost every organised occasion in Rye this year from the Raft Race to Bonfire Night. Continue reading Having Fun for Charity

November the Fifth


While reading the November issue of Rye’s Own, it brought back boyhood memories of life in Rye back in the late 1940’s. I was born at 10 New Winchelsea Road to Jack and Marjory Fuller. Later moving to 46b Udimore Road, where the bonfire night procession used to start. My brother and myself were ‘Bonfire Boys’, as our father was. We wore the badge with the ‘burning boat’ emblem upon them. A few days before the “big night”, all the Bonfire Boys would meet up in Bedford Place, at the back of the old cinema in the Landgate. This is where the torches, which were soaked in paraffin, for the procession were made. The bonfire had been built on the Salts with chestnut and birch faggots made by Jimmy Dewhurst at Udimore. Over the years he must have made thousands of them. On bonfire night all the local children would follow the floats around the town, their pockets full of penny bangers! A very dangerous practise, but we all did it then. As we all followed the procession, we would pick up torches which had been dropped in the gutter. We used to get covered in paraffin as it ran down the handles. The best part of the night was eating bloaters, which had been cooked on a brazier in an old steel boat in the procession. The bloaters had been smoked by Frank Jarret who had a fishing tackle and net shop down the Mint. I remember one year my father making a Readicut rug with the ‘burning boat’ emblem on it for a raffle. It was displayed in a shop window in the High Street, and whoever guessed how many knots were in the rug won it. The proceeds from the raffle were given to the Bonfire Boys’ fund.

Bloaters from the Boat
Bloaters from the Boat

It would be interesting to know if anyone remembers the rug, or indeed if it is still around almost sixty years later! The following day (Sunday) lots of children would go to the fishmarket and around the Nissen huts to pick up rocket sticks. Why we did it, or what we did with them I’m not sure, but it was obviously great fun! I attended Ferry Road Primary School, (now sadly demolished), and can remember the Bonfire Boys putting on a party and pantomime in the school hall every Christmas. They also used to distribute presents, to children in Rye on Christmas morning. The presents were purchased by the parents, and they made a donation to the Bonfire Boys’ fund for the delivery service.

From the December 2007 issue of “Rye’s Own”

Councillor Bantick’s Speech

Councillor Bantick’s Abbreviated Speech


Following the meeting Councillor Granville Bantick issued an abbreviated copy of his speech. It is reproduced here in full.

“There has been disquiet over the activities of the Rye Partnership over many years. From the outset it became difficult to disentangle the relationship between Rother District Council and the Rye Partnership, which later became further complicated in that the then Head of Regeneration, Mr Mark Evershed, became the Partnership’s Secretary, a position which soon became apparent as having a conflict of interests, especially as he had become the major executive in charge of Partnership activities in Rye.

Many at the outset criticised the un-demographic nature of this organisation, but in the beginning it was believed its aims were laudable. Doubts surfaced when the public were told money would be available for a number of ambitious programmes for which there was a lack of clarity as to how these would be financed as accounts were often never presented at meetings or were incomplete.

The public’s anxiety was not abated when very ambitious plans were presented to them for the proposed development on the site of the old Central Garage of a mixed development consisting of maisonettes, a town library, and a space for Hastings College and a Housing Association. There were many vociferous local objections to the plan – the design was thought inappropriate for the conservation area of a historic town and the library was thought too small. Regrettably there was too little consultation in the Partnership’s desire to push the plans through. Following a series of negotiations with bankers, the owner of the site and Seaspace, Rye Partnership and its partners had to abandon the project as it was generally thought the project was not viable. The site was cleared for development at a cost of £90,000. To this day the site remains undeveloped and it has been left for the County Library authorities to try and negotiate with the site owner for a minimum library space. Plans for a library and flats only was submitted to the Planning Authority but were not accepted in the form in which they were presented and a revision was requested. We now understand that fresh plans are to be submitted in the near future. It is undoubtedly a disastrous story which leaves much to be concerned about. The question often asked is whether the Rye Partnership should have taken on the role of a property developer which was never its remit in the first place. The Rye Partnership has been largely kept afloat by the financial largesse of the District Council which has had to continually pump tax payer’s money into the organisation as there was insufficient income arising from their property portfolio. Then recently there was the problem that arose in the local fishing industry when local fishermen objected to the plans to change Rye Fisheries to light industrial workshops which would lose jobs. In fact Rother’s planners were unconvinced of assurances given to the fishermen that the building would still be used for fish processing. This matter has still to be resolved.

It is my belief, and that of a great many people in Rye, that there needs to be an independent enquiry into the affairs of the Rye Partnership. My proposal to ask the Rye Town Council to support such an enquiry was lost, but will be further debated at the next Full Council meeting when it is hoped a greater number of petitioners will have signed. Whilst there have been some admirable projects initiated by the Rye Partnership over the years there has on the other hand been some very bad decisions, and unfortunately due to a lack of communication and accountability the general public have rightly become cynical.

Until there is an enquiry the public will not be satisfied. If the Rye Partnership, as it seems from what has been said by the Chairman of Rye Partnership, has no objection to a full investigation, then it has nothing to fear, and at last hopefully this matter can be put to bed once and for all.”

Published in Rye’s Own December 2007 Issue

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