Rye’s Christmas festivities organised by the town’s Chamber of Commerce were criticised at Monday’s full town council meeting. Next year’s “needs to be infinitely better”, said the mayor Bernadine Fiddimore, while Cllr Ian Potter asked the council to reject a request for financial support from the local business group.
At a policy committee meeting on November 24, councillors present had recommended a payment of £1,000 to the Chamber of Commerce. The committee was unable to authorise the payment because it was over £250 and so had to go to the next full council.
Potter stood and asked Monday’s meeting to reject the recommendation. Cllr Mike Eve believed Potter should suspend judgment until the “whole thing is over” as there were two more Saturdays of events yet to come. “It is only one third finished,” he said.
Potter rounded: “To come back to Cllr Eve’s point, which is ‘so what?’: most items on most committee meetings are resolved items but because of the level of expenditure this is not a resolved item. It is a recommendation to this council.
“There are more people round this table than there were at that committee meeting and I am asking, simply asking, whether you want to part with a thousand pounds of money, for what so far has been underwhelming, to an organisation that has not actually specified precisely what that money will be spent on and to an organisation that has in excess of £16,000 in its reserves.”
The mayor said she felt “dreadfully sorry for one or two people” in the Chamber of Commerce “who have ended up organising the whole thing on their own”.
She added: “I’d like to talk about the lights and festival in some depth at the next council meeting. I am concerned that next year’s festival should be infinitely better than either this or last year or the last two or three years have been. There is much work to be done.”
She asked Potter if he would agree to considering the issue in the new year: the next full council meeting is in February. Potter proposed a motion to do so, which was passed. But he told the mayor when she asked if he were happy with this solution: “Content is a half-way house. I am not happy.”
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Photos: Tony Nunn