Rother has Failed Us
If proof were ever needed that Rother District Council has failed this town then I ask readers to read the words in the following columns that have been reprinted as they were written in November 2001. (This was from a 2005 issue of Rye’s Own)
Four years on and every single one of them could have been written yesterday. Some of the issues are slightly different but the results are always the same. Rye loses out every time. Broken promises, failed deadlines, wasted money and even downright lies have been the order of the day.
There have been some improvements during those four years, the police have begun to re-group, PCSOs have been introduced and the crime rate in Rye has dropped. The Thomas Peacocke has made good steps in the right direction, these are as a result of direct Government intervention however and nothing to do with Rother District Council.
The Town Manager has done her best, but apart from the new “Sea Gull proof” waste bins dotted around the town, good work with the Heritage Centre and a few periphery interventions her hard work has not produced any major changes or improvements. This has not been for lack of enthusiasm on her part.
Yolanda Leybourne has been restricted by a stigma that seems to hang over the Rye Partnership, the understandable reluctance of Rye Councillors to get involved with an non elected manager doing what they should be doing, and her ties with Rother District Council which is mistrusted and unloved here in Rye. These words were written in ‘Town Crier’ four years ago in November 2001
Rother Renege on Promise to Rye
The £10,000 earmarked as an emergency fund to help Rye Traders has been callously snatched back by Rother on the lamest of excuses.
The money was to be used in advertising the town in the face of the Water Board’s mains replacement operation that has been instrumental in blighting trade throughout the whole season.
This magazine has continuously pointed out the unfairness of the District Council system that is taking funds from Rye to prop up Bexhill.
The time has come for Rye Councillors to demand the return of control and power of Rye’s affairs back to Rye.
They should expose the bad practices of the District Council at the highest levels. Bang on Mr. Blair’s door if necessary. Ryers pay higher rates than anyone else in the County. Our car parks raise more cash than any other section of the district. We are being taken for a ride. Property developers from outside the area poised to pounce and devour the last major areas of ground rightfully belonging to the town in an orgy of profit making business developments.
We have had the Hastings College of Further Education coming up with an amazing scheme to sell off the old Lion Street School (which they purchased for the princely sum of £1) and relocate the Library, minus the room facilities used for so long by Rye’s Clubs and Societies, to a rented site over the old Central Garage building in Cinque Ports Street.
None of these things would have been allowed to happen under the old Borough system when Rye Councillors (all unpaid) ran this town with prudence and foresight.
Planning applications were dealt with by people who lived in and understood the problems and requirements of Rye.
Council With No Power
Now we have a Council with no power, ineffectual representation on Rother and East Sussex and a non-elected Rye Partnership raising money they are usually prevented in spending because the costly “Feasibility Studies” they present are prepared by people from outside the town and bear no resemblance to the requirements of the people of Rye and are often too expensive and impractical to implement anyway.
Now we are being told that a Town Centre Manager (again non elected) is what we need to put things right. What a lot of nonsense. Rye does not consist of only the centre – The people of Tilling Green, Udimore Road, Kings Avenue, New Road and Winchelsea Road are Ryers, and as proud of their town as those living in Mermaid Street, Watchbell Street and The Mint.
What this town needs is a Council with power over it’s own territory, elected by the people of Rye. They must devise a plan for the future so they know where they are going. This system worked in the past – it would work again now – for the present system has surely proved to be an abject failure.
The words of 2001 ring just as true in 2005
Tea, a Pee and a Bargain
The Thursday Market came to Rye back in 1966. It has grown in popularity to such a proportion that the town is now packed to the seams on Thursdays. Busloads are shipped in from as far away as Eastbourne to enjoy the atmosphere a get a bargain or two.
On top of this there are coaches coming in on Thursdays and throughout the week, bringing in foreign and British tourists to wander the streets and enjoy our beautiful town.
These are known locally as the Tea & Pee Brigade. No doubt many do spend a few bob but could there be a way for this town’s hard pressed businesses to encourage both Thursday market customers and day trippers to spend more here?
Why not get a scheme going whereby a system is arranged with the coach companies to dish out a £5 and a £1 voucher which can be redeemed in the town at any participating shop by spending double the face value (one purchase per voucher of course) of the voucher? I can hear shop owners screaming that their margins are too low and they would be losing cash but think on. Most of the tourists on the coaches are buying souvenirs from the big national tourism sites where prices are at least twice as much as they are here, so with their extra buying power (vouchers in hand) tourists would not notice a hike in the prices targeted directly at them that would absorb a good percentage of the gift value. The towns collectable outlets, which are also popular with wandering tourists already operate a ‘flexible’ price system. Reductions need not be offered to purchasers who use vouchers.
Other outlets who participated would have to work out their own arrangements but in my experience most people who are given something for nothing usually take up the offer.
Dan For Sheriff
The decreasing number of crimes showing for Rye on the Neighbourhood e-mail Watch and the poor attendance at the recent Public Meeting held by the police confirm that the ‘fear of crime’ in Rye has dropped considerably in recent months.
A great deal of this is because of our local PCSO Dan Bevan who has made his presents felt with an extraordinary combination of tact, persuasion and decisiveness that has won over the public. He is doing what the good coppers in the old days did and the results in less vandalism and crime in Rye. No doubt, with information that locals willingly give him, the crime ‘clear-up’ rate has also improved.
One old gentleman told me with conviction “Dan should be made Sheriff of Rye”.
The PCSO scheme has worked in Rye because of the efforts put in by Dan. His high profile method is very effective but I was under the impression we were to get three PCSO’s, what happened to the other two?
What a crazy country we live in. The European laws have put out Rye’s fantastic Christmas lights which have made our town such a great place to shop in at this festive time.
We are being led to believe that this is a safety measure but where does the risk end? There has never been an injury caused by this town’s Christmas lights since the tradition first began in Victorian times, no more than there have been any injuries caused by falling headstones in Rye Cemetery.
These regulations are taking risk levels to a ridiculous extreme. There are no regulations to ban women from using high heeled shoes or a ban on zips on men’s trousers, both of which cause far more injuries than falling headstones. These, of course, could be on the Brussels agenda.
Risk is part of life, the question is What is acceptable risk? They tell us that if the speed restriction in a built up area was raised to 35mph it would result in 3,000 more deaths a year. That is an unacceptable risk. But how many would be saved it it were reduced to 25mph? 300 perhaps, is this acceptable? Now go down to 20mph and the number saved would be a further 30. We could go on like this until the Europeans told us it must be 4mph with a man with a red flag walking in front of each car. Would this bring the risk down to nil? Perhaps but think of all those men with red flags, one day one of them may trip.
When are we going to stand up to all these stupid regulations, done in the name of safety, which are dealing with risks of an extremely low level?
Rye Town Council and the Chamber of Trade should put their heads together and find a way round the problem or soon there will be no traders left. Christmas is of major importance and lights attract customers. Please get your act together and find a way round the regulations as the French always do!
Rye District Councillors As Powerless as Rye Town Council
Both Rye District Councillors Sam Souster and Granville Bantick have claimed that Rother, the Council they serve, is undemocratic. What have I been saying for the past five years?
It is obvious that a body made up of a majority of Bexhill members are going to favour Bexhill. In reality it is not Rother District Council but Bexhill Council financed by the rest of the District. Bexhill have never had it so good, whatever they want they get. Look at the massive amount of money that has been lavished on the De la Warr Pavilion. How many times do people from Rye take advantage of it’s facilities?
As Councillor Souster said in his report “Resentment of Rother in Rye is at fever pitch”.
The time has come for a change, Rye and for that matter, Battle and the villages, must put a stop to Rother’s games and find a way to retrieve their own identities.
What is needed is for Rye Town Council to talk with one voice. Put Rye first and throw party politics out of the window. They have only one weapon the power of persuasion but they will never use it to any effect unless they all sing from the same song sheet.
Being a Rye Councillor is a special privilege bestowed by the electors of this Ancient Town. It is not an excuse to ‘talk the talk and walk the walk’ and to enjoy dressing up in cap and gown for parades and other ceremonial occasions. Rye expects more.
It seems that every single Rye Councillor has moaned about Rother and used that as an excuse to continue arguing and bickering in the chamber about minuscule matters which they are unable to do anything about anyway.
There should be just one item on the agenda. Finding a way of getting rid of Rother and regaining the lost power, dignity and property it lost in 1974.
It will be interesting to see what the Campaign for a Democratic Rye come up with at their Public Meeting at the Community Centre on Monday 14 November.
Danger on the A259
The A259, between Hastings and Brenzett has been identified as one of the two most dangerous roads in the South East.
The roads were rated by the number of deaths and serious accidents per kilometre (The Survey was done by EuroRAP)
There was no mention of when the road would be restructured and a bypass made around Rye that would protect the cliff face at South Undercliff from being shaken loose by vibration.
First printed in “Rye’s Own” December 2005