Town Crier

                                Goodbye Star

Jimper Sutton was wrong. They did re-float the Maanav Star. She was pulled off Jury’s Gap by a tug just after “Rye’s Own” went to press last month. The old coaster did cause a bit of excitement in the area, probably the first time in her long career that anyone paid attention to her.

Jimper was not the only one to think the Star might not be re-floated. A report in the “Falmouth Packet” mentioned the first unsuccessful attempt to tow the ship off. It told of how the salvage tug Anglian Earl managed to get the tow line wrapped round her own propeller. She had to be towed back to Falmouth by the tug Multratug 7. The report then went on to say the Maanav Star was “still aground until the next Spring tides when efforts will be made to re-float the ship”.

The fine photograph from the air of the ‘Star’ in our centre pages shows how close to the sea wall the ship was driven by the storm on that rough night at the beginning of October. Don Frost took this magnificent picture.

                                Lion Street School

Can it be true that Hastings College are really driving groups out of the Lion Street Further Education Centre so that they, with the aid of money raised by our own Rye Partnership, can develop the majority of the site for housing?

Rye Camera Club, who have used Lion Street since just after the War, have been forced to out of town facilities inWinchelsea and Rye Natural History Society have moved to Iden.

College Principal Julie Walker claims that the enormous increase in charges for the use of the building and in the individual class fees have been made to cover the cost of maintaining the building. I can suggest an easy way out of these financial problems. Sell the building back to Rye Town Council for the one pound note Hastings College paid them for it in 1974 and let this town worry about the cost of looking after a property which was originally left to Rye ‘in perpetuity’ by John Meryon. Any scheme put forward by Hastings College, Rye Partnership or developers that will mean turning all or part of this property into dwellings should be firmly opposed by our councillors.

The time has come for Rye to start looking after its own affairs. The Lion Street School, the Salts and the Car Parks are top of the list. They should be brought under the control of Rye Town Council. All of Rye’s Councillors should declare publicly where they stand on these issues. Representation of Rye requires a strong commit-ment to this town, there can be no ‘aginers’ or ditherers. Rye had a proud 600 year history of self governing before the changes in 1974 put our town and it’s assets in the control of the men at Bexhill.

I sat in Rye Town Hall listening to our Councillors as they argued closer and closer to a united stand against Bexhill. At last they are heading in the right direction. Except for a little Liberal Democrat – Labour sniping there is almost a feeling of independence. Councillor Paul Carey leads the pack of those wanting to claim power back from Rother to its rightful place – Rye Town Hall. Others are close behind him and the ditherers are slowly coming round to the fact the Bexhill is running Rother at the expense of Rye and Battle.

I remind all readers that they are very welcome to sit in at Rye Council meetings. They take place at the Town Hall on Monday evenings at 6pm., call the Town Clerk on Rye 223902 (Mon. – Thurs. 9am. – 1pm.), he will reveal the date and agenda. These are the people you voted for, go along and see who you think are doing the best job for Rye.

                       NothingTo Do With Bexhill

Ashford and Hastings Councils each put up £5,000 towards a £15,000 study needed to investigate the possibility of re-opening a double track on the Primrose Line from Ashford to Hastings. Rother was expected to provide the remaining £5,000 until “a number of Cabinet members spoke against this recommendation, one Behill man actually said”, and I continue the quote from Sam Sousters report to  Rye Town Council, “Why should Bexhill fund this?” Sam went on to say that this was “an obvious slip of the tongue, but it clearly demonstrated again where their priorities lie”.

Sam Souster asked if the cabinet were aware that “Rye was situated halfway between Hastings and Ashford on that line?”.

The fact remains that our two councillors are beating their head against a brick wall, neither are in the ‘Cabinet’ (what an arrogant title that is) the whole Rother set up is undemocratic, it should be called the Bexhill Town Council for, in practice, that is exactly what it is.

                                Rye Wheelers

It is good to see that the Rye & District Wheelers Cycling Club are taking an interest in the welfare of other cyclists and pedestrians who use the Harbour Road. After the recent tragedy they banded together to bring the long standing argument for a cycle and footpath to the attention of everyone with any influence from the Prime Minister down.

There have been several deaths and many injuries affecting people cycling and walking down this two mile stretch of road without a pavement. Proposals were put forward and plans in place as long as twenty years ago. Even now, after the needless waste of another young life, East Sussex County Council are still stalling and making excuses to delay construction. I was amazed to learn from Michael Foster the MP for Rye & Hastings that Prime Minister Tony Blair cannot overrule their decisions!

This means that, in this case, Peter Jones, the Leader of the County Council has more power than the Prime Minister and as he is the sitting member for Rye there is all the more reason he should be the one to get this job started.

The Wheelers have had several replies from the letters they sent out to various bodies. The two most constructive and promising have been from Michael Foster MP and Yolanda Laybourne the Town Manager. Rother Leader Councillor Graham Gubby noted the contents and passed the letter to Councillor Bill Clements Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Safeguarding Health and Public Safety. I hope his actions are as impressive as his title!

Tanya Herbert of the East Sussex County Council commented in the Rye Observer that ‘they’ are still trying to identify funding. Come on Tanya, where is all that European money? There are cycle paths and footpaths being built all over France, Belgium, Holland etc. and as Britain is one of only three net contributors to the community I think you should put lives before cash and demand a few quid of our money back from Europe to pay for this modest job.

Replies have not been received from the Prime Minister or Councillor Peter Jones at the time of going to press.

                              Bonfire Night

Rye’s ‘Night of Fire’ on the 13th. promises to be a terrific affair. Speculation is rife in the town as to who will be Rye Fawkes 2004. Rumour has it that a special celebrity will take that fearsome ride on the Sedan Chair carried on the shoulders of four of Rye’s finest Firefighters. I tried to get the name from one of the Bonfire Societies’ inner circle but the only clue I got was the sex. Even that I cannot reveal in these columns ‘on pain of death!’

Another mystery is the effigy. Who or what will be paraded round the town and then blown to smithereens.

Last year it was a seagull, the year before ‘the man from the Pru’ but the one that really sticks in mind though was the Rye Police Chief who had almost been instrumental in getting the celebrations called off until the Rye MP. Michael Foster, now a Society hero, stepped in and saved the day.

As I have absolutely no idea on this year’s subject I can speculate without fear of recriminations. My choice would be Rother District Council. They let Rye down on numerous occasions, especially with this town’s attempt to win the Britain in Bloom Competition. Very few places get the coveted invitation to take part and those that do are supported in every way by their council. Not the case here, the help given by Rother amounted only to a tiny fraction of those towns Rye was competing against. The amazing feat of winning a Bronze (many towns won nothing) was down to the efforts of the Rye in Bloom Committee and the people of Rye who worked so hard with half hearted support from Rother. Whatever the choice make sure you have your hands over your ears when they light the fuse.

On a final Bonfire note, please put plenty of cash in the collecting boxes, every penny goes to local charities. This is all the reward members want for their tireless efforts throughout the year to make the celebrations possible.

Jim Hollands