Amber addresses business forum

Amber Rudd addresses the new business forum in February

A new business forum was launched on February 17 with guest speakers Amber Rudd MP, & Liz Pendennis from Christmas in Rye.

The first meeting attracted over 70 guests to the Mermaid Inn, who came to hear the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, talk about her relatively new cabinet role and answer questions from the floor on a diverse range of topics from business rates to policing.

Liz Pendennis spoke of the highly successful Christmas in Rye event, and how it has grown and developed thanks to the support of local businesses. She received a warm welcome as she outlined teasing plans for this coming Christmas, which will be much looked forward to.

The forum will meet every other month and give a formal, positive, solutions-focused voice to local businesses. It is also a platform for sharing success, & businesses working together. Not only do Rye area businesses get to talk with key decision makers, but hear about community events, and how business can work together for the benefit of the whole area. Open to anyone who owns a business, or is a sole trader in Rye and the surrounding villages, it is free to come along to. This evening’s event was very kindly backed by GMP Accountants in Rye, who sponsored welcome drinks for all attendees.

Liz Pendennis talked about organising Christmas in Rye

The next event will be on Thursday April 20 2017 5:30 for 6-7 pm at The George Hotel in Rye, and guest speakers will be Michael Salmon, from the Department for International Trade, talking about how companies can benefit from government supported initiatives for international sales and exports. He will be joined on the platform by designer Jen Sinclair, sharing with business useful tools and ideas on how to use social media to market your business.

Future meetings will involve Rother & East Sussex councillors talking about plans for parking in the town, and businesses are encouraged to come forward with ideas on topics they would like to talk about – feedback from the first meeting included “how we can support independent small traders, and how businesses can support and encourage young apprentices.

For further details, contact for updates of events.




Photo : John Minter


  1. I would like to thank Rebekah Gilbert, GMP Accountants, Liz Pendennis and everybody else who has participated in launching the Rye Area Business Forum. It is a great initiative and I wish it all success. I was pleased to see our MP, Amber Rudd, talk at this inaugural event. This said, I found it hard to refrain from doing a Pinocchio nose impression during her talk, not least because for the most part it was just state propaganda, admittedly with a few good jokes thrown in.
    The Q&A session was more interesting. Somebody said that they were concerned about the lack of policing in Rye, to which Ms Rudd stated that crime was not really a problem here. This came as a surprise to me, because as everybody here knows all too well, when anybody parks for over an hour in the High Street or anytime on double yellow lines, technically that is a crime, and this occurs probably a hundred times a day. I don’t wish to trivialise what we perceive as true crimes, such as domestic violence or muggings, but nevertheless, this is not a victimless crime. I’m in no doubt that every business within the shopping area of Rye is losing trade as a consequence. It is now 26 years since the Road Traffic Act 1991 was introduced and Rother along with Wealden are the only district councils in the entire South East to not yet have requested parking be decriminalised. The political hegemony, consisting of district council, county council, police and central government do really not care about this crime, and crime it is.
    The matter of business rates was also raised. Unlike say Council Tax, where you get something in return for your tax (emptying of bins, etc), business rates are fairly arbitrary, as you don’t get anything in return. I’m not objecting to taxation as such, but the issue is that they are increasingly unfair, as online businesses pretty much avoid them, whereas High Street businesses have to pay the brunt. When asked why Amazon were paying less than previously, Amber Rudd’s answer was to say that you don’t have to shop with Amazon. But this is a pathetic answer, as for all intents and purposes, the Government is subsidising companies such as Amazon and penalising High Street businesses. The latter are vital to our society, as they provide not just employment, but contribute to the wider community in a way that online companies never will. My question to Amber is: why are you supporting online business over High Street business? I’m not averse to online shopping (although I do avoid Amazon), but I do ask at the very least for a level playing field.

  2. Many thanks Dominic, we have a great team behind the event. We are hoping that parking will be addressed at the June meeting, by which time Rother District Council should be near to completing its review.


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