Town Crier

                            News and Gossip Pages

                                   Double Bluff?

News of a new supermarket in Rye has been trickling out from East Sussex County Council officials. We are being lead to believe that the Ferry Road school site will be the home of a new Tesco outlet. They can’t tell us officially what chain it is as it is subject to a ‘confidentialities clause’ but as Tesco have a reserved right to buy the Queen Adelaide and presumably the actual site and the railway ground adjacent to it, it may well be that one of the few remaining community owned sites is going to be sold off for a commercial use that could be detrimental to the overall wellbeing of the town.But what if all this is a bluff? County have decided that the two existing primary schools, Freda Gardham and Tilling Green, should be knocked down and replaced by one new school sited on the last playing area on the Thomas Peacocke campus and taking some of the adjacent allotments as well. Could it be that a new, and even larger store, could be built on the Freda Gardham site and the Ferry Road ground used for housing, as was originally planned by the County?

And what of the Tilling Green site? Why, this will make an excellent entry to the new housing development they have in mind for the North side of Udimore Road. To sum up, my predictions are that within eight years there will be a new major chain supermarket at either New Road or Ferry Road, the remainder of the area at both sites will be filled with houses (half of which will be used as holiday homes). There will be some provision made for ‘affordable housing’ whatever that may mean. Tilling Green will be the entrance to a massive new housing development that will stretch right up to the top of Cadborough Hill where there will be a further entrance joining the Udimore Road at a roundabout.

Whatever is done we can be sure that the people of Rye will have little say in it unless some sort of power is restored to our Town Council.

                                 Kate’s Letter

Kate Hemmings’ excellent letter in Rye Observer highlights the point that decisions are being taken behind our backs. Time is fast running out if Rye is to be saved for what it is, “one of the five towns in England most worthy of preservation.” (English National Heritage 1969)

Rye will never be the same if it is surrounded by a sea of houses. The population of Rye is 4,500, the same as it was in 1950. So where is the demand coming for all these new dwellings? I can tell you, it is in great part from people wanting to buy holiday homes. There are so many houses in the town already used as second homes that some streets are only half populated in the winter months. Perhaps instead of building new homes it might be time to charge a much higher Council Tax on properties used as second homes (at present it is LESS than for a permanent occupier). This might free up some housing stock in the town and discourage the need for building so many in the future.

The Ferry Road site should have been used to house the new Library and Doctor’s Surgeries. The remainder of the ground could have been set out as a safe cycle/footpath to the Thomas Peacocke and recreation area. If East Sussex County Council had acted as soon as the school was closed the buildings there would have suited the purpose at very little cost but it was left open to vandals and County used this as an excuse to bulldoze the buildings.

Beside the Freda Gardham and Ferry Road Schools another of Rye’s old schools is under imminent threat of being changed into living accommodation. The Lion Street School was given by John Meryon for the education of the children of Rye, in perpetuity, how can it be that the powers that be are able to ride rough shod over the wishes of the original benefactor and of the people?

There are two things that may save the town from a vast new house building programme in the immediate future. One is the massive protest that will come from those that want to see Rye saved from suburbanisation and the second being the ongoing drop in demand for houses that have out priced the market. If the prices begin to fall the speculators will not be so keen to get their hands on the green fields around the town. If fate plays a hand and postpones the day that the earth movers descend in force then there is all the more reason for Rye Town Council to claim back some power and be in a more commanding position the next time a boom in the market sends property prices soaring again.

                        The Youngest Mayor

Councillor Ian Potter has been re-elected for a second year as Mayor of Rye. He was, and still is, the youngest person to serve in this revered and responsible position over the centuries.

The Mayor of Rye Councillor Ian Potter is elected for a second year

There were doubters, indeed I was one, at the outset of his first term that he would be the best man for the job. He has proved us all wrong. The authority he has stamped on the job has seen Rye come through one of the most difficult years in recent history.

The Mayor throws hot new pennies to
the children waiting below

In the presence of dignitaries from all over the Cinque Ports area and in a packed Town Hall he was sworn in. Deputy Mayor Paul Osborne was re-elected and Mayoress Jessica Neame, who got universal acclaim for the hard work and fun she has brought to the office, took on the task of getting Ian to events on time for a second year.

After the inauguration events moved on to St. Mary’s, where an excellent sermon recalling Solomen’s wisdom and desecrations was given by The Reverend Hugh Moseley. He wished Solomen’s wisdom on Mayor Potter but advised him to take but one wife, and preferably a local girl.

Back at the Town Hall for the reception of guests and the traditional throwing of hot pennies to children in the street below.

Rather a sparse gathering of children. I do think the time has come to introduce silver coins to the proceedings, the value of a penny has dropped considerably since I scrambled for pennies 50 years ago, usually coming out clutching a few coppers in swollen fingers. Mind you, in those days a pennyworth of sweets was worth having. I wonder how the tradition came about and why hot pennies?

The traditional Mayor’s Banquet at The George followed and turned out to be a most excellent evening. The main hall of the George has seen many such gatherings over the years and the ghosts of many great Ryers of past years may have been present to hear Councillor Frank Palmer recalling the days when Rye was important enough to have two Members of Parliament, now we have to share one with Hastings!

Michael Foster M.P. for Rye & Hastings, probably the best constituency Member of Parliament in the country, held the assembled gathering in his hands when he outlined the qualities of Rye’s young Mayor.

He was surprised though to see a Barrister throwing money out of the window and hoped his colleagues would not see the photograph.

He told Mayor Potter that he was popular with everyone in the town and that unlike some of his predecessors he need not fear a bang on the back, whatever cloak he left the building in. Any bang on the back he got would be from friends slapping his back in commendation.

As a final word on the Mayoring celebrations I must comment on the fine quality of food and service the George Hotel provided. The new owners are young and enthusiastic and just the thing needed by the historic old hotel at this time.

                     No News of Nelson

Rye Town Council did decide earlier in the year that the town would be holding Trafalgar 200th. Centenary Celebrations at some time during the year. There has been no word or detail of what they are planning. I hope to be able to reveal more next month.

                      Bonfire Boys Auction

I did enjoy calling the Auction of Promises for the Rye Bonfire Society at The George on 19 May. A crowd of the town’s finest, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Rye, Ian Potter and Jessica Neame were brisk bidders on what turned out to be a very entertaining evening.

The Auction of Promises in full swing at
The George on 20 May

The total raised on 100 lots provided by the kindness of local business and Bonfire members and friends was over £2,000.

This money will help towards fireworks, insurance and all the other expenses involved in putting on an event of this complexity. All cash taken on Guy Fawkes Night is given to local charities. The money to run the event is raised from scratch every year by members organising events like the auction of promises throughout the months before the big day.

                          Out of our hands

There was a strong feeling among the public who attended the Postern Gate Re-Location meeting at the Community Centre on 24 May that their wishes have been completely disregarded on the Surgery move and on many related issues affecting Rye.

They fear that plans for several important changes in the town are about to be presented as a Fait Accompli without proper consultation or consideration of the wishes of the people of Rye.

This already seems the case with the Postern Gate Practice. It surprised many to learn that the new surgery planned for an out of town ‘greenfield’ site next to the Memorial Hospital, is to be funded by the PCT (Patient Care Trust), a public body using public money. A lot of people were of the understanding that the Practice was paying for the new building and that was why the doctors had such a strong voice in saying where it was going.

A straw poll at the meeting showed all of the 200 plus present favoured waiting up to five years for the right site to be come available in the town. Sites discussed were the Ferry Road School site, The Tilling Green School site, The proposed new Library site in Cinque Ports Street, the proposed new primary school site at the Thomas Peacocke and the Freda Gardham School site.

All were virtually dismissed by County Council representative Councillor Keith Glazier, though he did say he would ask the owner of the proposed library site in Cinque Ports Street (it is not owned by the Rye Partnership as the public have mistakenly understood) if he would object to it being used as a Surgery.

My own opinion is that the public have been led up the garden path. The obvious place for both the new surgery and Library are on the site of the old Ferry Road School. I urge both County and District to take serious note of local feeling. Their cavalier attitude is undermining democracy to a point where the elected Rye Town Councillors are holding their hands up in frustration at not being able to placate their constituent’s demands.

The time has come for planning powers to be brought back to the place they belong, in the chamber of Rye Town Hall.

                          Keeping Our Streets Safe

It was good to see three special policemen patrolling Rye streets after eleven on a Thursday night.

Great efforts have been made by the police to keep up a round the clock presence in Rye since the public outcry of a couple of years ago when crime was rife and calls for help sometimes went unanswered for hours.

Things are changing for the better. Let us hope that the changes will demonstrate that the old system was best, round the clock patrols and a phone number at Rye to call 24 hours every day.

June 2005 Issue of “Rye’s Own”

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