By Jim Hollands
After years of neglecting Rye and the fabric of it’s ancient buildings which Rother District Council took on the responsibility for in 1974, they (Rother) now have the audacity to want to ‘sell’ the Landgate Tower back to Rye so that they (Rother District Council) can abdicate their responsibilities for maintaining an Historic Building.
If they have the power to give the Landgate back to Rye, then they are able to return all our Car Parks, Toilets, Parks and Gardens, property, and the £4,000,000 plus interest they have had after selling the Houses of Tilling Green which were built by Rye Borough Council.
Lets stop fooling ourselves, Rother and East Sussex, aided and abetted by Rye Partnership have sold off the family silver and decimated the town.
Let’s just look at what they have done to Rye and for Rye during the past 15 years.
They closed the Ferry Road Primary School, left it to be vandalised and then bulldozed the site and tried to sell it. It is still a wasteland.
They closed the Tilling Green School, and the gas and electrics were ripped out ( I said ripped out, not turned off). This was blamed on vandals, but the Police had no crime number as no vandalism was reported! The people of Tilling Green got together and ‘persuaded’ East Sussex and Rye Partnership to reinstate the electrics and open it up as a community centre. The school and grounds are just about large enough to accommodate the requirements of an estate with 2000 plus people living there. Now they are about to demolish that fine building and replace, what was boggy land ruled unfit for houses, with houses! The builders will provide a new ‘miniature’ Community Centre as a requirement before they get planning permission. Another large tract of community ground will be gone forever.
The Freda Gardham Primary School in New Road was closed and ‘put on hold’ while the flood defences are constructed and houses can be built on land that is designated as a sporting area.
They built a new Primary School using allotment land – Completely against the law of this land – and got away with it. Now they discover the Primary School is not big enough, so having disposed of three perfectly sound buildings, they are on the point of having to build a new one!
Rye Partnership were subjected to scrutiny by the National Audit Commission, who ruled they should pay back £125,000 they had claimed in a grant to have the Central Garage site cleared if the site was not completed as a public library of used for some other public amenity. The site is now completely commercial, flats and shops. The money was never paid back – Why – After years of enquiring why it had not been paid back I eventually got a letter explaining everything – SEEDA who made the grant are being closed down, so they thought Rye Partnership would be able to do more for Rye if they were not made to pay the cash back. No one mentioned the 502 Rye Ratepayers who signed the petition for the Rye Partnership’s finances to be subjected to independent scrutiny. Why are the members of the National Audit Commission paid so much in salaries, out of the public purse, if their rulings are not complied with?
That £125,000 would have gone a long way to restoring the Landgate Tower. Now, if rumours of the two surveys of it’s condition are as bad as they say, the road will have to be closed or there could be a tragedy.
What about Rother’s attack on the headstones in Rye Cemetery? What a stupid unthoughtful action that was. One headstone was knocked over after just three weeks of it being place at the head of a new grave. This action cost £3,000 of public money and endless sorrow for many who had relatives sleeping under Rother vandalised headstones.
Rother reneged on a £50,000 grant promised to Rye Council to help with the running of the Rye Heritage Centre – They threatened to close all the toilets in Rye, then closed the Rope Walk convenience and have let it out, no doubt planning to sell it off when the opportunity arises.
I could go on.
And what have they done for Rye? Built one school and plan to sell three off.
They will point to the Swimming Pool and I will redirect you to Rye Swimming Pool Association and the National Lottery.
They will say a cycle path to Rye Harbour and I will redirect you to Brian Matthews, the Rye Wheelers and the People of Rye Harbour who dodged traffic for forty years.
National Government go on and on about giving power back to communities. In the past 15 years I have listen to so many promises and watched good men and women work towards something that has been promised. I saw Rye Town Clerk Richard Fairhall jump through hoops to get Rye acknowledged as ‘Special’ Council on the promise of getting the town more power. He did everything they asked and what did Rye get? – The Power of Well-being – whatever that is and a framed certificate.
I watch and worry for Anthony Kimber, who is putting in unmeasured hours to create a ‘Town Plan’. I just hope that his hard work and enterprise are going to come to fruition and that this is not just another ploy by clever politicians to stall for time and keep the status quo. After all, the Neighbourhood Plan will still be subject to the planning office at Rother.
The only local politician who seems to get things done is Amber Rudd. Rye Town Council should call on her for assistance in the matter of Rye’s Historic Landgate. Rother will wash their hands of it now they know how much it will cost to make it safe and secure again. Our MP is a Minister now but I notice she is still fulfilling local public engagements, even in the villages. Her influence could be vital in getting Rother to fork up the cash for repairs to a national landmark that their negligence over 40 years has allowed to fall into such a poor state of repair.
First Published in “Rye’s Own” November 2015
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