Rye Town Council finally met last Monday for the first time in 2018. As usual there were reports from the town’s representatives on ESCC and RDC and, as usual, they demonstrated the fine art of saying very little but at some length. County Councillor Keith Glazier confirmed the County Council tax increase, explaining that although expenditure for the coming year was likely to remain largely unchanged, central government contributions were continuing to be reduced and substantial savings were required to balance this. He said, however, that an additional £1.9 million provided by Government to help with social care would help to mitigate the savings problem.
For Rother District Council, Councillor Genette Stevens confirmed that there would be no change in the matter of Bexhill governance (which means that Bexhill councillors will still be able to out-vote anything proposed by Rye or anywhere else outside Bexhill which does not appeal to them). On other matters, she was pleased with the current high standard of waste collection and disposal, particularly the public bins at Gibbets Marsh (although Councillor Gilbert later challenged this). She was concerned, however, that homelessness throughout the Rother area had increased by one third and that RDC do not have enough affordable housing to cope with the highest ever level of applications. Some 83 new homes, she said, were needed.
Rother Councillor Lord Ampthill’s report was a written one (he did not attend the meeting) and can be summed up as follows: Landgate, parking, new contractor for waste collections, council tax – discussions continue.
A matter shortly to affect Rye is the extension of the coastal path, the Eastbourne to Camber section. Christopher Hoggart of Natural England gave a short presentation in which he explained that the path – 2,700 miles round the coast of England – was due to be completed by April 2020 and would, wherever possible, use existing paths and rights of way with all the land on the seaward side of the path being accessible to users.
For Rye, the path would come in from Winchelsea, on the seaward side of the Nature Reserve, to Harbour Road, then follow the river round to Rock Channel, go past the Salts, over Monkbretton Bridge and then follow the footpath alongside the river and from there, along the sea defences to Camber. Ongoing maintenance will be the responsibility of ESCC and the path is likely to prove a popular asset when it is finally opened.
After concluding a number of other agenda items the meeting ended on what was, to this reporter, a slightly sinister note. Rye Amenity CIC has applied to Rother to have the allotments in Love Lane and South Undercliff added to the Register of Community Assets. If approved it would ensure that the land stayed in the hands of the community (in this case the allotment holders) and could not be sold or used for another purpose. The Town Council unanimously agreed to support this, however it is known that Rother is not enthusiastic and from which it can be concluded that it may well be looking for an excuse to turn the application down. As RDC has a track record of selling off bits of Rye and then pocketing the proceeds, this is of considerable concern. The Register shows that another allotment site has recently been given Community Asset status, however that one is in Bexhill and as Rye knows to its cost, that while all areas of Rother are equal, Bexhill (to paraphrase George Orwell) is more equal than others.
The annual Town Meeting has been postponed from March 7 and will now be held on April 4.
Photo: Rye News library