The town where we live


For the last week, Rye has been as full as I think I have ever known it to be. The combination of the Jazz Festival, the bank holiday and the great British weather (for once behaving itself on an August Bank Holiday) have all contributed to scores of very welcome visitors descending on the town. Restaurants and pubs have been bursting at the seams, car parks have been full and the High Street, citadel and Strand Quay have been thronged with people.

I have spoken to a number over the last few days – of varying nationalities, and have been asking them what they thought of us, “what a beautiful town”, said some, and “It must be a lovely place to live” said others, “But so many cars” said a few. Some wanted to know about the Landgate and with some perspicacity, one lady commented, “It looks rather sad and neglected – why don’t you turn the flood lights on at night?”

There is so much that we have to be thankful for here and so much that we do really rather well. How many towns of this size have as many festivals and celebrations as we do? Not many, I would suggest. And of those that do, how many do it as well as we do? Again I would suggest even fewer.

But its not just the Festivals – there is the ancient town itself, the lovely old houses, our beautiful  church, the Landgate, Ypres Tower, the cobbled streets largely unchanged for so many years, the views over the Marsh, and also the reverse view, especially approaching from the east, of the little town sitting, rather self-importantly, on its hill, topped by the church tower and looking, from that angle, much as it must have done for hundreds of years.

Those of us who live here are, indeed, fortunate. Apart from the natural attractions, we have shops, sports clubs (I think about 25 at the last count), societies catering for many tastes from gardening to bridge, philosophy to antiquities, art to railways to charities and just about everything in between. And, dare I say it, even our own thriving online newspaper.

Of course, nothing is ever perfect: we have serious problems with traffic, for which a solution must be found, we have an ancient monument in desperate need of a lot of TLC, we have no police and we have a district authority that believes in grabbing what it can and returning as little as possible. Perhaps this is because, as the result of a recent interview seemed to indicate, the real power appears to lie with the permanent staff who live and work in Bexhill and know nothing and care even less about Rye, rather than with our elected representatives. There are many battles still to be fought here and these must start with our elected town councillors – from whom so much was expected following their election last year – being prepared to stand up and be counted on issues relating to the essential maintenance and running of the town and, in particular, to encourage and support our RDC councillors (even the silent and unseen one) to fight for Rye over in Bexhill.

The problems we have can be sorted out, the parking, the Landgate, housing, public area maintenance, even the mess on the riverside opposite Strand Quay. It just needs the will and determination of us, the ordinary citizens of Rye to make it clear beyond any shadow of a doubt, to our local politicians, what we expect of them.



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