Your Men at the Town Hall
Councillor Frank Palmer
Frank Palmer and his good lady Irene made their home in Rye in 1973. At that time he was employed organising Police Cadets in outdoor pursuits in North Wales and commuted from Rye for the last three years until retirement. For many years an accomplished mountaineer, he has climbed the Matterhorn and other major European Peaks and been on Snowdon 130 times, he was well suited to his job, which also involved canoeing and other outdoor oriented activities. Frank was elected to Rye Council in 1983 and has served two years as Mayor and been active on nearly all council committees at one time or another.
The following interview with Jim Hollands took place at Councillor Palmer’s home on 28 May I 2000.
As a regular visitor to Zermatt what do you think of the Zermatt plan for Rye as put forward in the sixties to improve the town and protect the fabric from ever increasing traffic. And do you think it has even more relevance 40 years on.
The thought of a Rye with only electric vehicles allowed within it’s town walls is very appealing but I think it must be something for the future, introducing the scheme would cause great upheaval and sufficient parking and depot area would need to be provided.
Electric buses and vehicles to move goods are much more advanced now than when the scheme was first mooted but there would be opposition from car owners within the town and perhaps some traders, though if the pedestrianised area at George Street in Hastings is anything to go by trade would almost a certainly be improved for the better. I cannot see such a scheme being introduced in Rye for at least another 30 years.
J.H Do you agree that the old Borough Council which allowed Rye power over its own affairs was a better system than the tiered arrangement that exists today and precludes Rye Council from virtually all power over it’s own destiny, and would it not be better for Rye if it were possible to revert to the old system?
C.P. In principal yes. But costs of running things have escalated to such a degree that one wonders how much would have to be raised on the local rate to pay for professional staff, rubbish collection, road repairs within the town and the myriad of things that have been taken over by the District and County Councils. I suspect we could do these things cheaper locally but I would like many more facts and figures before I could come to a definite conclusion. The powers of Rye Council are, as you say, very limited and even our three District Councillors, only one of whom is a Rye Town Councillor, have limited power being only three of a total of over forty members. Sadly when it comes to a vote the Rye group is completely out numbered and to make matters even more complicated, most decisions are taken on a party political basis that often has no reflection on the rights or wrongs of the proposal. Rye Borough was by tradition a very independent body, most candidates dropped their party affiliations and stood as independents and more importantly, voted independently.
The only way to increase local power under the system now operating is to get good consensus among Rye councillors before putting our proposals and preferences forward. Bickering in the local press before decisions have been taken only weakens our standing.
J.H. There has been a lot of criticism of police response times recently. Where do you think the fault lies?
C.P. Not locally. I cannot see the reasoning in having a Rye Police Station that is manned only in the daytime. Common sense dictates that a phone on the wall that directs the calls to Eastbourne is not a satisfactory situation and response times are affected by 999 calls being taken by someone miles away from the area who have no idea of the location being notified. Even worse, the attending policemen often come from another town and do not know the individual streets so more time is lost.
The ideal situation is to have men policing their own areas and who know the place and the people. The powers that be have decided otherwise and to save a few ‘coppers’ have centralised their resources. It is all a political policy and the police are getting the blame.
J.H. Although all the by-pass schemes have been dropped Rye desperately needs a passing route. Where do you think any such relief road should go.
C.P. North of the town – the further north the better.
What is there for the Young?
J.H Rye’s Own was involved with the Community Centre Project from the outset. I am pleased to see it prospering and offering much to the town. I am disappointed, however, in the fact that it does not cater as much for young people as I envisaged it would at the time of it’s conception. What does Rye offer it’s teenagers.
C.P. The Sea Cadets, The Boy’s Club and Animate spring to mind. I do not think enough youngsters try the facilities that are offered. Perhaps we should promote the existing facilities better.
J.H. There are always a lot of complaints about business rates in the town. Rye rates are among the highest in the country. How would you go about reducing them.
C.P. One item where savings could be made by the County Council would be the axing of the magazine dropped on every doormat every three months. What a waste of money. Produced in colour, it reports on the activities and expenditure of E.S.C.C. We know that County Councils are required by law to inform their rate payers what their money is being spent on but that could be on one simple sheet in black and white!
J.H. How effective is Rye Town Council.
C.P. Although we are mainly advisory most of our decisions seem to match those of the district council but there are times when our views are reversed.
“Rye’s Own” June 2000
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