Let’s give streets a spring clean

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Spring time will soon be apparent in Rye and blooms will abound. However, so will the weeds. Recently a Rye public garden was highlighted in a local paper as being scruffy and unkempt. This publicity actually produced an effective response: it was tidied up.

Not long after that a photograph of Mermaid Street reached a national newspaper and it was described as “one of the prettiest streets in Britain”. Had this photograph been taken from the lower part of the street it would have shown a very different picture – an unacceptable mess of weeds, brambles, broken pots and mud-covered cobbles. Sadly this area may be considered part of a building’s curtilage, and thus private.

With this in mind, I am suggesting that residents of our town decide to give it a “spring clean” by throwing away broken pots, plant containers, replacing dead flowers and foliage and removing weeds and moss collecting around their houses and their immediate area. If we do this, then maybe the county will begin to look after the main cobbles.

There are serious consequences of not looking after these. In certain areas the cobbles can barely be seen, and in another year they will be covered and hidden beneath the build-up of moss and dead leaves, plus overhanging foliage. There was a time when they were sprayed twice yearly to keep them clear. I presume this is no longer done because of the Government’s cuts to local councils. Small matters such as this, which affect our quality of life, are seen as expendable. In order to keep our town special and a delight to visitors, who ensure our businesses continue, perhaps it is time we all began to do this job ourselves.

Whenever, we enter our community buildings or shops, we expect and take it for granted that we will be in surroundings that are cared for, kept clean, tidy and thus presentable. Should our expectations also include our immediate surroundings: the pavements and buildings close to us?

It is likely that with all the recent publicity enjoyed by Rye, we shall be getting even more visitors this year. This is yet another reason why our town needs a “spring clean” and we need to show that we do care. It is an established fact that beautiful and cared-for surroundings help create caring and respectful behaviour. This is something we should all welcome.

May I say that the new town steward has made great strides in clearing the path along the fishing quay, very thoughtfully putting the mulch by the nearby trees. He has also cleared the rubbish from the steps and alongside the steps from Hilder’s Cliff down to Fishmarket Road. The Benson Belvedere has been cleaned up by him and he has made an excellent start to the new post.

It was a good initiative and shows what can be done when a service is managed locally and not part of a large and rigid contract. However, his work must not let either the county or the district councils off their responsibilities. We as residents must support the town steward’s work and do our bit towards the improvement of our town’s appearance.