Open Letter from Rye


An Open Letter sent By “Rye’s Own” on behalf of the People of Rye to the Leaders of all Parties in March 2006

Please put politics aside, join together and save the Ancient Town of Rye from being decimated by the two controlling outside bodies. For 900 years this proud member of the Cinque Ports Confederation governed its own affairs very satisfactorily but in 1974 the Local Government Re-organization Act meant that Rye was left with a virtually powerless Town Council. A new body, Rother District Council, took most of Rye’s powers and assets to iBexhill. Since that time Rye has been in decline, suffering under a regime that is governed by Bexhill members of the District Council who hold a virtual majority of the 38 seats compared to Rye’s two. Democracy was taken away at a stroke!

The people of Rye have witnessed a massively unfair distribution of the local rate. Bexhill has flourished while Rye, rated in 1970 by English Heritage as “One of the five most important towns in England worthy of preservation” has deteriorated year by year until, at this point in time, when Rother, after vandalising our Cemetery on some pretext of a European regulation, has decided to close all public toilets in the town to save money! How can a town, which derives almost all its income from tourism, contemplate a future without the facilities that are the first port of call for our visitors agenda? On top of all this, the County Council has rounded on Rye in its own efforts to save money. They have axed our fine Friary Day Care Centre situated in our local hospital which itself was saved and rebuilt by the efforts and money raised and donated by local people. The distress caused to the users of the centre and their carers is immeasurable.

Ryers have supported their country through thick and thin, from the time when they built and manned ships as part of the Cinque Ports Fleet, which was in those days the King’s Navy, to more recent wars where men from this town paid the ultimate sacrifice as can be seen from the long list of names on our Memorial. These men fought for democracy, but the democratic process has been wrenched away, they want things back as they were, they want to be responsible for their own town and destiny.

Beware of upsetting them too much however. Ryers have a long fuse but when their patience is exhausted, as it is at this present time, they can turn swiftly, as they did to rid themselves of an unfair council in 1825. It should also be remembered that Rye was the last place in England where the Riot Act was read and the guns were actually fired before order was restored.

It was said by the Duke of Wellington, one time member of Parliament for Rye, that “The pulse of England was to be found in the centre of Rye. What Rye does today, others will do tomorrow”. So what we are asking you three fine gentlemen to do is to find a way to keep our toilets open, rescind the decision to close our Friary Centre and restore democracy to our Ancient Town. Please do not pass the buck and say decisions are made by the District and County Councils and that you are not able to intervene. You are the leaders and it is your members that sit on these Councils, have a quiet word in their ear.

Please, please, find a way to let Rye have control of her own fate again. Give us back the free-holds, Car Parks, Gardens, Friary Centre, Conveniences, Sports grounds, Planning Control and the £4,000,000 Rother gained from selling off our fine housing stock. Yours Respectfully The People of Rye.

“Rye’s Own” April 2006

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