Six Months Reprieve

Udimore Road Site

From Rye’s Own April 2008 Issue


By Jim Hollands

Up to eighty Rye people crammed in the public galleries at Rother District Council’s Bexhill Town Hall to learn the fate of the proposed building site for 135 houses on the greenfield land to the North of Udimore Road.

A question put by Rye Councillor Granville Bantick on technical aspects of flooding to District Councillor Brian Kentfield was inadequately answered on paper and a supplementary question put at the meeting by Councillor Bantick found the District Councillor wanting. He offered a reply ‘on paper’ “In the near future”. He was also out of his depth with a follow up question on brownfield sites from County Councillor Keith Glazier and retaliated with an attack on the County’s failure to get the Bexhill – Hastings Link Road constructed which would allow a large building project to go ahead there.

The paper answer to another enquiry about brownfield sites put by Rye Councillor David Wright made it clear that adequate researched into possible building developments on brownfield sites had not been completed. Councillor Wright’s probing supplementary was greeted with applause from the public gallery.

Such is the way with local politics that in the face of so much opposition including many letters to each District Councillor from members of the Rye public and an especially telling letter from Rye Town Clerk Richard Farhall, the Leader of Rother District Council, who also heads the seven man cabinet, proposed a six month delay in releasing the land so that further brown field sites could be investigated.

It was at this point that Lib Dem. District Councillor Sue Prochak proposed an amendment. She pointed out that without the North Udimore Road site Rother would be less than 1% down on the required building programme and she was more than confident that, in the four years before 2012 when everything would come under further review, this tiny amount could be made up. Her amendment proposal was that the Rye site should be kept on the reserve until then and then re-listed as greenfield.

This proposal was met with tumultuous applause from the assembled Rye group. This was what they had come to hear.

It took the Council Leader by surprise, he retaliated with a completely inappropriate attack, saying this was just a political point scoring proposal.

To the complete dismay of the gathered Rye people both our Mayor, District Councillor Paul Osborne and District Councillor David Russell followed the Party line and voted for the six month extension and against the ‘2012’ amendment! There were gasps, cries of “No, not the Mayor” when he put his hand up with every other Conservative Member of the Council, the Lib Dems and all the Independents voted for the amendment, which of course, was lost. District Councillor Sonia Holmes was ejected from the Chamber during the discussions and was not allowed to vote because she had ‘declared her interest beforehand’.

Some of the 80 Strong Group that went to Bexhill
Some of the 80 Strong Group that went to Bexhill

The Mayor made desperate attempts to explain himself to Rye people who had made their way, on a miserable, cold evening to Bexhill and were now leaving the Chamber in disgust. He claimed that six months or four years would make no difference if Aroncorp (the developer) appeal was upheld.

Mayor Osborne was asked by a Rye voter, “what if, as can reasonably be expected, it is not upheld, where would his six months delay rate against four years and a review?”

As things stand now, Rye is still being held to ransom by Rother District Council. In six months time it will all blow up again and another Rye invasion of the Bexhill Chamber will be required. Some Ryers thought that the numbers could be increased to 500, to demonstrate that the people of this town will not be driven down a road they do not want to go.

From Rye’s Own April 2008 issue