A New Beginning

Campaign for a Democratic Rye Group

A new beginning

by Chairman, Cllr Granville Bantick

The Campaign for a Democratic Rye Group held its inaugural meeting
on the 22nd February attended by forty people including the Steering
Group. The historian and author, Mr Peter Ewart, who himself and his
forbears came from Rye, preceded by giving a very entertaining and
illuminating talk entitled “Rebellious Rye, Corruption, Protest and
Reform in the Nineteenth Century”. It may be thought by just coincidence
that the title might apply to Rye today, with perhaps the exception
of corruption!

This was followed by an address by Dr Keith Taylor, the outgoing Chairman
who was to be succeeded by Cllr Granville Bantick. Dr Taylor drew
attention to what had been achieved since the Group’s formation culminating
in the election last May of 6 RyeDr Taylor who had stood under
the banner of the Campaign for a Democratic Rye. He said he was well
aware of the task ahead to split Rother District into three semi-autonomous
areas, Rye, Battle and Bexhill, each area having a committee responsible
for its own area, including planning, and would be represented by
the district councillors in that area. In the Rye area there would
be 10, in Battle 10 and in Bexhill the remaining 18. Dr Taylor emphasised
that whilst Rother would continue to be responsible for overall direction
and targets, theDr Taylor would have complete control of its
fiscal direction and planning. The power of the Parishes would be
strengthened, not weakened.

A lively discussion ensued during Question Time and some who might
have had doubts about the working of Area Committees hopefully had
these doubts dispelled. It will require a great deal of work by the
Group to persuade first of all the Parishes, including Rye Town Council,
Battle and eventually Rother District Council, of the need to change
the system to bring greater devolvement of power to the local level.
The Group feel that this is far the best route to take, having the
advantage over other forms of devolution in that it benefits the whole
area and not just Rye or Battle, and more importantly includes having
planning decisions made locally by those who know the area.

Arising from the Steering Group a committee consisting of ten members
was formed who will be elected by CDR members annually. A Constitution
has been written to ensure the proper working of the Group. Within
this document are spelt out the Aims of the Group. These are:-

1. To promote the highest possible degree of independence and autonomy
for Rye and the surrounding villages in local government.

2. To seek to achieve this by dividing the existing Rother District
into three semi-independent areas each governed by an “Area Committee”
which would be responsible for devolved government in Rye, Battle
and Bexhill, and their surrounding areas.

3. To aim to have complete control through the establishment of Area
Committees of fiscal direction and planning, whilst Rother District
Council retaining responsibility for some overall direction and planning.
The Group plan to have an Advisory sub-group of people having expertise
in local government and finance. The terms of reference will be for
this sub-committee to determine the costs and expected revenues accruing
to the Area Committee which would report to the executive committee
with its findings. Already much information has been gathered but
more detailed information is required to be obtained before meaningful
discussions can commence with the Parishes to seek their support in
principle. The result of these discussions will form the basis of
the next phase of the Group’s operations.

Membership of the Group includes all those who support its Aims and
reside within the Rye area as set out in the Constitution. A paper
was circulated at the meeting inviting those agreeing with the Aims
to join the Group and several new members have already been recruited.
A further membership drive will shortly be made to all residents of
Rye and be advertised in the local press.

Rye’s Own April 2008 Issue