ARRCC, the Activities Rehabilitation and Respite Care Centre on New Road, Rye has closed its doors. A resolution to be put to a meeting of members on Monday April 16 will initiate a creditors’ voluntary winding-up of the Rye-based operation ARRCC Ltd. The other main branch of the charity in Folkestone is not affected by the closure.
The failure of the Rye operation results in substantial losses to local traders and voluntary organisations, as well as individuals who have not been paid for their services. The Inland Revenue HMRC is owed in excess of £75,000, according to Mark Boast a representative of Insolvency Practitioners Compass Financial Recovery and Insolvency Ltd (Compass). The assets are minimal, consisting primarily of four transport vehicles, two subject to hire-purchase agreements, another valued at £1,000 and the fourth at scrap value.
The charity moved Its base from the Rye Hospital site about nine years ago and took on the lease of the former Freda Gardham school on New Road from East Sussex County Council (ESCC). Its income came principally from local authority welfare budgets and from letting space to local artists for studios and workshops.
When government cut-backs began to bite, ESCC budgets were slashed and ARRCC’s income was drastically reduced. Attempts to replace this lost revenue saw various initiatives and income generating schemes, but these were mostly unsuccessful. A second-hand furniture warehouse opened and was closed. A second-hand shop in Cinque Ports Street in association with other charity workers ended in disagreements over profit-sharing. Its removal to other premises was less financially viable, in contrast to the Community Shop outlet run by volunteers which has gone from strength to strength. More recently, ambitious attempts to promote theatrical events at the Creative Centre have attracted funding support from various community sources, but proved unsustainable, absorbing resources without realising economic benefit.
The crunch point came with ARRCC’s non-adherence to tax payment schedules, and the non-renewal of the lease from ESCC, which expired last Thursday, April 5. Grace O’Neill, the Chief Executive Officer had departed on March 8 as reported in Rye News. Notices of impending liquidation were issued to creditors on April 3 and the doors to the Centre were locked last Friday April 6, with security guards patrolling the premises over the weekend. Tony Moore, chair of trustees has declined to be interviewed, referring enquiries to Compass.
On Monday April 9, the artists’ studio tenants were invited to meet with Graham Glenn of ESCC Estates Department and were offered a short-term three-month licence to occupy, with the hope expressed that someone or some organisation would come forward to take over the running of the facility, apparently on a full-repairing lease.
ARRCC has filled a real social and caring role for its clients. It has provided a wide range of services and has certainly helped people with physical or sensory disabilities to make the most of life. Occupational therapy services at the Creative Centre included gardening, fishing expeditions and the development of creative skills. ARRCC has run a day-centre service for the over 65s at Magdala House, Ferry Road. Its outreach activities included the provision of home care in needy cases. Its transport fleet encouraged mobility for its less mobile clients. ARRCC will be sadly missed in Rye.
Photos: Chris Cleere and Kenneth Bird