Rye Partnership – fit for purpose?


Rye Partnership was formed in 1996 and became a not for profit company, limited by guarantee in 2003. On its website, it says “The Rye Partnership is a community focussed not for profit company formed in 2003 with the purpose of supporting the regeneration of the wider Rye area.”

Since that time, one of its main objectives should have been the development of new homes at the Tilling Green Community Centre. It took over 10 years before any serious movement was seen on this front when the housing association, Amicus, showed an interest, eventually producing plans for social housing. These were scuppered when the Environment Agency somewhat belatedly advised that the land was on a flood plain and Amicus, who may well have been looking for a way out anyway, by then , disappeared quicker than a dawn mist.

Since then nothing further has happened and there have been no reports of attempts to attract alternative developers for primarily social or affordable homes. The flood plain issue certainly would incur some additional cost but with the recognition at both local and national government level that new homes are urgently needed, has any attempt been made with the land owner (East Sussex County Council) to see if some sort of arrangement could be made that might help mitigate this? Now Rye Partnership have given up and handed the problem back to ESCC.

The one achievement recently that the partnership can lay claim to is the removal of the old kitchen at the Tilling Green Community Centre and its replacement with a new kitchenette. Well done Rye Partnership!

Their only other major investment appears to be the Fishmarket site, which fortunately is largely let to a serious operator with a proven track record.

Elsewhere the Rye Harbour shop has had some re-decoration but their other property, the moorings at Rock Channel, they have admitted they have no idea what, if anything, to do with it.

Does this really sound like an organisation, “committed to supporting the regeneration of the wider Rye area”? It has been in existence for 26 years – 19 of those as a community interest company and, other than producing an expensive-looking website, has managed to complete just one project of any significance, and failures such as the old Central Garage site in Cinque Ports Street are best not dwelt upon.

Attending the partnership AGM earlier this year, one could not but help have the impression that the problem was one of indifference, bordering on incompetence.

By the time the AGM was due to start only one of the eight directors had turned up – the chairman, Keith Glazier (wearing one of his many committee chairman hats). Of the others, including two town councillors (one, a former mayor of Rye), there was no sign, although it is not impossible that one or more might have been skulking at the back of the room. Surely an AGM is the one time in the year when all directors of any organisation should be visible and available to be questioned by their audience?

Finally, a second director turned up only to launch into a diatribe on how hard it was to be a volunteer (in fairness it should be stated that the directors are all volunteers), how much work they had to do and how difficult it was. Here, at Rye News, we know all about that. A number of the current editorial team have been with the paper almost since its inception and our job – to produce an online local newspaper every week except between Christmas and the new year when we give our readers, and ourselves, a break, is a commitment that we all make on joining, and one that we have kept without exception.

Volunteering to do a job is not volunteering to do a job when you feel like it, it is committing to get that job done even if it does mean personal inconvenience and having to put in some anti-social hours occasionally. This is the difference between a voluntary organisation such as Rye News which, regardless of what else has been going on in our lives or the world around us, has never missed a publication date and the Rye Partnership which, in 26 years appears to have achieved so little.

One has to ask, is the partnership as presently constituted, fit for purpose? The more one looks at it, the more one has to come to the conclusion that the answer is probably no.

Has the time come, maybe, for the chairman and directors to hand over to others with a greater desire to use their energy and skills for the benefit of the people of Rye?

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .

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  1. Much greater scrutiny is required.
    The amount of ‘consultancy fees’ this outfit has diverted from useful projects over the years, to associates in some instances, and the self-serving attitude of some of the senior personalities are major factors in its failure. Volunteers? And were no expenses ever drawn by these people??
    Total lack of vision and understanding of what Rye is about as a community.
    It’s also fascinating to see the web of overlapping roles that certain people held or hold, in the Partnership, local authorities (and that includes our local MP) etc…….it almost looks like a ‘cartel’ at times.

  2. As a former chairman of Rye Partnership can I offer a few thoughts. Times have changed. Twenty years ago Government was investing heavily in a large structure of regional development agencies which together with the EU funded a vast array of local regeneration partnerships, including ours in Rye. A change of Government saw a switch to regional Local Enterprise Partnerships which placed greater emphasis on business and county and district councils to deliver regeneration. This challenged the raison d’etre of local partnerships and Rye survived because it had invested in income producing assets to fund future local initiatives.
    All organisations need renewal and good people to volunteer to take them forward. Let’s hope some will step forward and be welcomed by those already involved.
    My old friend and colleague Keith Glazier has served ours and the wider East Sussex community with great distinction. He turned round a county social services system rated as failing by regulators to one rated as a amongst the best in Britain. He is now working with talented business people to further develop the Rye fish quay- they have already created seven new local jobs and would, I am sure, welcome new talent into the Partnership. Open doors usually just need a gentle push!


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