Call for council to debate levy

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The main topic for discussion at the Campaign For Action In Rye’s (CFAIR) meeting on September 24 was the proposed introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) due to be adopted, if approved by the Planning Inspectorate, by Rother District Council this month, October.

The CIL is an additional tax on new buildings, based on a proven need for infrastructure improvements as a result of new development anywhere in Rother. The proven need is set out by Rother in a statement called  the ‘Funding Gap’ and Rother DC has made  several attempts to justify the Funding Gap as it was originally rejected by the government’s Planning Inspectorate.

CFAiR members agreed with a report from the Scrutiny Committee claiming that consultation with RDC parishes and Town Councils had been inadequate, and that the Rye’s former Town Council (before the May election) had voted to approve the CIL in the mistaken belief that the tax was to replace the current Section 106 agreements (These agreements require the developer to pay for  specified improvements to the infrastructure and environment of the immediate local area of the development).

Given there has been general disquiet about the CIL, and given the new tax will increase the cost of housing, CFAiR believes approval should have been debated again by the new Town Council before the RDC makes its final decision. Several local authorities have decided not to adopt this tax including Hastings Borough Council. The new Rye Town Council should also be given the opportunity to debate this issue and be given the explanation of why Hastings Borough Council have rejected the CIL.

It was agreed a letter would be sent to all Town Councillors and the two District Councillors asking that the final vote be postponed to allow for fuller debate. The Planning Inspector might have approved the figures, but only local residents and councillors can know whether the figures reflect a real situation, CFAIR believes.

The scrutiny group had also discussed

  • The viability of the Rye Partnership;
  • The extension of the devolution of services following the successful introduction of a Town Steward.
  •  Tourist information,
  • The Town Hall building, Heritage Centre, library services, and the Leisure centre,
  • the Freda Gardham site (once the flood defences are completed in 2021), and
  • Rye Academy, nursery and schools development

The Tilling Green Community Centre CIC (Community Interest Company) reported that documents were about to be submitted to the CIC Regulator, and that Amicus Horizon, Rother Voluntary Action and Rye Partnership were supporting the start-up process through a series of workshops.

On more hands-on practical matters, a paper on footpaths was tabled and CFAiR hopes it can assist other town volunteers (and the Steward) in helping organise a rolling programme of maintenance and pruning.

Jack Ash is meeting with young people to put together a strategy for the Skate Park(s). He is also, with others, looking at joint insurance, publicity and volunteers for events. It is hoped that ‘Rye in Bloom’ can eventually emerge from these initiatives.

Tracy Dighton will be organising and encouraging dementia friendly training in the town and surrounding villages, as well as training in social media.

The next meeting will be on October 15 at 7pm in the Tilling Green Community Centre and new members are always welcome (each meeting is open to the full membership).

(Source: CFAiR)