Council suspended from confederation

Jonathan Breeds (in the blue jacket), the then Mayor of Rye waves to the public as the Confederation attends Hythe's Venetian Festival

As local gossip suggested that Rye Town Council (RTC) had been thrown out of the Cinque Ports Confederation, which brings together local councils, RTC has put the record straight in the statement below. The photograph above records the council’s active past involvement in the Confederation.

“Rye Town Council has been suspended from Confederation membership for not paying last year’s subscription (£350), nor this year’s (£350). Rye suggested that the Confederation has become more of a private social club which does nothing to address the needs of member towns’ residents, who fund it via council tax (except in Winchelsea).

“Confederation officers will be meeting shortly with the Rye Mayor and Town Clerk to outline what the Confederation has agreed to do to make it more relevant.

“This will then be considered by Rye Town Councillors on June 27 – who will be asked if RTC should pay the outstanding subscriptions and resume trying to influence the Confederation from within.”

The Cinque Ports date back to the 11/12th centuries and provided ships and men to the Crown in the absence of a Royal Navy (until the Tudor period). However, the five harbours (Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich) did not include Rye as a “Cinque Port” until the massive 1287 storm which silted up New Romney harbour and diverted the River Rother’s exit to the sea away from Romney to Rye.

Over the centuries however storms, the sea, river silting and the increasing size of ships have decreased the importance of “the ports”, except, perhaps, for Dover, in the medieval period. The Confederation is another example of tradition and the area’s historic past – still preserved by the appointment of a Lord Warden who, not so long ago, was the Queen Mother – and other VIPs have been appointed over the centuries.

Image Credits: Seana Lanigan .


  1. It sounds to me as if Rye Town Council is making a principled stand in this matter, with entirely good intentions. However, for the sake of £350 p.a., it seems a shame to drop out of the Confederation altogether, even if the organisation does little of practical utility today.

  2. I will read the full article later and comment again, BUT having scan-read the first few lines of this article –

    Rye IS a Cinque-Port, or nearly a full one.

    I will check what the £350 brings to the Town, but my “gut-reaction” and my own opinion is that Rye should be paying this “Membership” (does it include VAT ?)

    If not, perhaps a few individuals or businesses, or some other official Rye organisation or capacity may need to pay this bill to retain our Fellowship of this Organisation.

    Perhaps we will suspend Rye Bonfire next ?

    Or Chryestmas ?

    Perhaps the Town’s Coffers can’t afford this payment ? Hopefully not !

    Jonathan Dellar (NOT Mike)

  3. I have read the full article now (once) and still believe that Rye should, or perhaps, must retain it’s Membership of the Confederation of the Cinque Ports of England / The United Kingdom.

    Tradition can be good and bad. It is Tradition. Our History.

    Can our Town Council Team come up with any ideas to reinvigorate the Confederation and endear the idea and spirit of the Confederation to our Towns’ Folk ? Our voters – The People, whom the Rye Councillors represent.

    Maybe we should have a referendum vote on whether “the voters” want Rye to remain a Member of the Confederation of the Cinque Ports ?

    Long live the Cinque Ports !

    God Bless the Ancient Town of Rye !

    God Bless the Mayor of Rye and his Wise Counsel/Council !

    And on this Patriotic Weekend, bestowed upon our Country and our Commonwealth, GOD BLESS THE QUEEN !

    I rest my case.


    Jonathan Christopher Dellar

  4. Rye Town Council has not said that it won’t pay the £350pa subscription (not subject to VAT) – which has been ring-fenced.

    In recent times, quite a few Rye Mayors have tried to get the Confederation involved in initiatives that would benefit its member towns’ residents and businesses – but they have largely come to little. Rye Town Council’s decision to withhold its Confederation subscription was a last resort and intended to demonstrate the seriousnes of the situation. The Town Council found it somewhat exasperating to see the effort being put into producing Confederation umbrellas and face coverings – and, more recently, a’Cinque Ports tweed’.

  5. To be honest until I read this article I had no idea this even existed and I wonder how many other residents would say the same?

  6. Well done RTC.

    For many years the federation has wasted the opportunity to make a difference with weak and draconian leadership stuck in the past.

    With Mayors, only in office for a year have tried to have a positive influence for change. Sadly there have been a few of the stalwarts who would rather attend any opportunity to dress up than debate moving forwards.

    History and heritage are important but so is progress.

    The various Clerks of the Cinque Ports without exception all supported a collaborative approach when we proposed “the cinque ports passport”. The idea was to encourage visitors to visit the various Cinque Ports year after year in the same way visitors return each year to the mountain range called The Monroe’s.

    Mayors and clerks all backed the idea, marketing was started. Rye Bay Marketing Ltd was then harshly dealt with for using the term Cinque Ports!!!! despite countless pubs, taxi firms, decorating business and god only know who else uses the term.

    RTC have done well to make their stand, now let’s hope the collective Mayors and Clerks make the necessary changes and replace the model that says one man runs the show and permit the federation to flourish once again.

  7. I think Paul means the Munros – 282 mountain peaks over 3,000 ft high dotted around several ranges in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. For hill walkers who ‘bag’ these, there are also 221 Corbetts – peaks in Scotland between 2,500 to 3,000 ft. The smaller mountains aren’t named after the diminutive Scottish comic, but John Rooke Corbett who listed them all.

  8. Thank you for the correction Andy. The sooner the federation gets rid of the current Seneschal and appoints visionary forward thinking leadership that’s capable of listening a little more than it makes speeches the better.


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