Partnership’s Plan Collapses
The collapse of Rye Partnership’s plan to construct a building that would house Rye Library has coincided with the call from a group of Rye residents, directly to the Government, to open an independent inquiry into the Partnership’s affairs, claiming there is a lack of ‘financial clarity’ and ‘tangible achievement’ in the town.
These are very serious charges, especially in the light of County Council Leader and former Partnership Chairman Peter Jones’ claim that £10,000,000 had been disbursed around the town in the seven years since the Partnership was formed.
Councillor Jones has responded to the critics by listing the achievements of the Partnership, saying that £5,000,000 alone was being spent on safeguarding the future of the Rye fishing industry.
He went on to say that if the Partnership was criticised then that criticism would fall on almost every organisation in Rye who were represented on the Partnership or had benefited from it.
He commented that “Rye had lots of people who were wingers but are not prepared to get in and do something for the community – If they did I would have more respect for them”.
How the Partnership Works
Despite the fact that the Partnership is made up, in part, of representatives from all sections of the community they cease to remain true representatives once they become Directors of the Partnership and their allegiance (by law) must favour the Partnership. Their standing as Town Councillors, District Councillors, Chairmen etc. of various town organisations gives the Partnership the look of a democratic body when, in fact, it is a self governing body paying very little respect to the views of the true elected representatives of Rye, the Town Council. The fact that there are three Rye Councillors represented on the Partnership does not mean that requirements of the Town Council are considered when it comes to projects being put forward by the Partnership.
The Partnership’s paid staff research funding. Most of this comes from SEEDA (South East England Development Agency). This funding is very specific and can only be claimed after a project has undergone a ‘feasibility study’. These studies vary in price usually £20,000 or £40,000. This cash is provided by SEEDA once satisfactory paperwork and plans have been prepared by the Partnership. When the ‘feasibility study’ is completed ‘matched’ funding is sometimes required. This means that for a £100,000 scheme £50,000 is put up by SEEDA and the other £50,000 must be raised by way of grants from East Sussex County Council, Rother District Council and even out of Rye Town Council’s small precept. To operate, the Partnership commission is taken from grants. Other supporting cash measures come from Rother and SEEDA.
Where does SEEDA get its money? From the Government!
The whole system is much more complicated than described and even a fool could see that it would be far less expensive and more even-handed to disband SEEDA, close down the Partnership, split all its funding grants on a per capita basis and send Rye’s share to our elected Town Council to spend and allocate for the true benefit of everyone in this town. This will not happen, of course, because SEEDA is all part of our link into Europe.
Despite the NO vote for the North East Elected Regional Assembly they still have an non elected Regional Assembly in the North East as we still have in the South East, made up of voluntary partnership members.
It seems that funding is gradually being taken away from elected bodies and given to these large quangos to distribute as they wish. The whole thing is being geared for a full entry into Europe. At present we are part of the South East Plan. Soon we could be swallowed by a European Scenario.
It may be that the reader is quite happy to go along the trail to a confederation of European states, this is a personal choice, but straw polls show a majority happy to trade with the Community and other European countries but draw the line there. They want less layers of government, not more. Out of 100 Rye people quizzed at the Trafalgar 200 celebrations, 97 told a “Rye’s Own” representative that they wanted a return to Borough status and an end to Rother District Council.
Thirty years of Rother District Council have taken a terrible toll on this town. What would Rye be like now if the system had not changed?
The streets would be cleaner for a start and all the toilets opened every day. Headstones in Rye Cemetery would not have been violated, the delightful walks around the town would be clean and litter free. It is very doubtful that the old Rye Borough Council would have allowed the main Doctor’s Surgery to be moved out of town. The Gungarden would still be full of flowers and Tilling Green would have been well lighted and looked after.
Two things would definitely not have been approved, the ‘barracks’ on Winchelsea Road by the Sluice and Rye Partnership.
“Rye’s Own” September issue 2005
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