Town Crier

Election Time

A Bye Election has been called to fill the vacant space on Rye Town Council. The Election will take place on Thursday 5 April.

Three Contestants have been declared. They are:-Jessica Neame, the current Mayoress. Jessica will continue as Mayoress until May whatever the result.

Sonia Holmes. Independent. Supported by the Campaign for Democracy in Rye.

Christopher Strangeways. Environment.

Over recent years local interest at the Town Council Election has waned but in view of recent events culminating in the closure of the Friary Centre (final date set for June) and the threatened closure of all Rye’s public toilets, this may be one of the liveliest elections for years.

Toilet Speculation

What have Rother got planned for Rye’s Public Loos? Could it be they are playing a bluffing game with the intention of announcing that they will be keeping open the Station Approach toilets but closing all the others in the false hope that we will be grateful for small mercies?

Let me tell Councillor Gubby right now, this will not be acceptable. Almost two million people visit Rye every year and thinking that the Fishmarket Road, Gungarden, and Strand conveniences can be closed is out of the question.

The Rope Walk toilets were closed one year ago and have caused many problems, especially on Market Day. Local businesses have been plagued by desperate people begging to use their facilities. This is not fair, it causes disruption. Would you like to clean up after folk whose only contribution is the penny they spend in your loo?

Perhaps Rother can arrange for some of these visitors to seek relief in the “Rother Homes” establishment while the closed sign stays up at Rope Walk!

Coach loads of older citizens arrive in Rye all year round for a cup of tea, a see and a pee. We are glad to have them and can provide the tea and see, but it is Rother’s bound duty to provide adequate toilet facilities.

Let there be an end to this nonsense now. Either provide proper facilities or give Rye back its Car Parks so that funding is available to allow our council to look after its inhabitants and visitors’ personal comforts.

“Continuing as Rother District Councillor a Waste of My Time and Energy”

The truth is coming out at Rother as a third councillor resigns, frustrated by the Cabinet system and ‘party line’ that dominates everything that happens in the chamber at Bexhill.

Graham Oliver resigned from the |Sackville ward and his words, reported by the Bexhill Observer have rocked Rother.

“I have been completely disillusioned as a councillor from some six months after being elected in Sept 2004” he said.

“I believed with my financial background (Accountant to a large Bexhill manufacturing company) I might have something to offer the electorate. My attempts to study Rother’s finances and to suggest re-generation ideas have been thwarted. Continuing as a Rother councillor would have been a waste of my time and energies” he continued, “Real things like staffing levels and the cost, saving monies so that funds may be released so that some regeneration work can be carried out at no cost to Rother Council taxpayers are ignored”

He concluded “Fellow Conservatives have been severely embarrassed that public toilets, closed after pontificating about economic reasons, have been re-opened. What a climb down, what an embarrassment in the first place to ditch the infrastructure and heritage that our Victorian ancestors built”

Graham Oliver’s words were written before the Gubby lead Cabinet decided to have another go at closing Rye’s toilets.

150 years ago the words Rotten Boroughs were frequently heard. This was because the people had lost their franchise. According to Graham Oliver it seems that the same is happening again. A vote is of little use unless the Councillor it elects has power to represent his constituents. Rother District take note. Rye is far from happy with the way you operate. Rye Borough Council was a far more democratic body and represented the requirements and aspirations of the inhabitants of this Ancient Town.

45th Anniversary Dinner at Hope Anchor

Rye & District Hotels & Caterers Association celebrated the 45th anniversary of their foundation in 1961 with a Champagne Reception and Gala Black Tie Dinner.

The Hope Anchor’s Chef de Cuisine, Kevin Santer, prepared an excellent special menu and the Guests of Honour were Founder & President Anthony J Mann FHCIMA and his wife Sheila. Vice Chairman Rita Cox BA[Hons] proposed the loyal toast and Nigel Bishop, Commercial Manager of HSBC Bank proposed the toast to the Association – he said that HSBC applauded and supported the work of the Association and were pleased to be Commercial Associate members of the Association.

In his response, Kerry de Courcy FHCIMA Chairman & Chief Executive of the Association, pointed out that this year also marks exactly 50 years since Tony and Sheila Mann first came to Rye to take up the management of the Hope Anchor Hotel in 1956. The Association wished to mark this event in the life of their founder and had commissioned a magnificent large table lamp from Cinque Ports Pottery which had been hand painted by John Izod and inscribed with the words ‘to Tony and Sheila Mann – to celebrate 50 years in Rye from R&DH&CA . In 1960 Tony and Sheila took over the famous Flushing Inn Restaurant, run today by their daughter Heather and Son-in -Law Sean Flynn – over 45 years owned and run by the same family!

Tony and Sheila Mann holding the lamp aloft whilst Kerry de Courcy
Tony and Sheila Mann holding the lamp aloft whilst Kerry de Courcy

The Friary Centre

I have not forgotten the fact that East Sussex County Council have withdrawn funding for the Friary Day Care Centre at Rye Memorial Care Centre. I have been trying to find out how much County are expecting to save and have come up with very odd figures. District Councillor Sam Souster extracted a figure of about £100,000 from statistics available to him but sources very close to County have told me the figure being banded about is £450,000. A bit of discrepancy here. But where are they going to save even £1? The nursing staff will not be sacked, just transferred, the transport will still have to be put on to collect those that have been placed in other Day Care Facilities, and, presumably, travel greater distances. Where is the saving? On top of this the empty area at Rye will still have a reported charge of £25,000 per annum on mortgages to be paid by County.

Rye Deputy Mayor, Councillor Paul Osbourne tells me that new regulations require two people instead of one to travel on the ambulance that collects day care patients from their homes. Surely a volunteer could have been used as the ‘assistant lifter’.

None of these problems are insurmountable. If the will was there the Friary Day Care Centre could still be saved.

I ask myself is there more to all this than meets the eye? Have County got another use planned for the soon to be vacant facility? The move to the top of the hill All the fuss about the impossibility of continuing the Postern Gate practice at Cinque Ports Street seems to have lost it’s urgency. Plans for the new surgery, which could have been put forward for planning consent over a year ago, have still not arrived at the Rother District Council’s planning office.

Perhaps the Rye Surgery has had a change of heart and is looking for a site within the town where all its patients want it to be situated. The Ferry Road School site, supposedly for a new Tesco Supermarket, still remains vacant! It belongs to County and has lay in waste for five years since County in it’s great wisdom, bulldozed all the fine school buildings that would have provided enough room for library and Doctors Surgeries alike, with ample car parking facilities and room to put a safe cycle and foot path through to The Grove. Or, alternatively, the new combined school they are planning to build on the Thomas Peacocke Playing Field.

Road Chaos in the Town

In another masterstroke of government planning the Highways Agency will be closing South Undercliff for “approximately six weeks” starting at the end of April! All ‘light’ traffic will be re-routed via Cinque Ports Street and that other ‘super highway ‘Deadmans Lane! Bourne’s and Jempson’s HGV’s returning to base from the Continent or Kent will have to turn right at Skinner’s Garage and proceed via Udimore, Brede, Hastings and Icklesham before arriving at their depots in Rye Harbour Road and St Margarets Terrace!

All this as the new holiday season, encompassing two Bank Holidays, gets under way. Why was this work not done in January and February? Even more to the point, why was the job not done properly by the Water Board’s contractors three years ago? They were paid for doing the job. Are heads going to roll? Is compensation being sought? After all this is public money and the terrible effect this type of disruption causes to Rye trade should certainly warrant large sums in compensation too.

The Highways Agency set the ball rolling in fine style, distributing high quality printed information in colour on expensive glossy paper. The information given did not explain how business in the Rock Channel area were to be accommodated and when I rang their 08457 504030 number (charges at local rate and open 24 hours a day) I could not get past mechanical voices to ask.

If the road is closed completely, as the information seems to infer, and not operated on a traffic light, half and half system, then it will be chaos in the town. Just imagine, all the light coastal traffic coming from Dover, Folkestone and Ashford along with all local traffic and vehicles coming down Rye Hill on the London Road will be diverted into Deadmans Lane ending up at the ‘spot in the road’ on the Rope Walk – Cinque Ports Street Junction. Here it will meet all light traffic from Brighton and Hastings. The whole idea beggars belief. Go away Highways Agency, put it all off till next January and think of a better way to divert all traffic and allow businesses in this town to operate.

Jim Hollands

Rye’s Own April 2006

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