In the final extract from the Mayor’s report to the Annual Town Meeting Cllr Jonathan Breeds reports on various activities which add up to the town’s share of the annual household’s rates bill which comes into effect this weekend from Saturday April 1 , and includes services provided by the police, fire and ambulance as well as those from Rother District Council (RDC) and East Sussex County Council (ESCC) .
The town’s share this year amounts to around three pence per ratepayer a week, but continuing cuts in central government funding may mean bigger increases in coming years.
Those cuts have affected social care budgets in particular which may feature strongly in this year’s elections for East Sussex County Councillors in May. So the coming month may involve a lot of politics, but not necessarily in the Town Hall.
The Mayor reported that Rother District Council is currently undertaking a Bexhill Governance Review – and is inviting all interested parties (not just Bexhill residents and businesses) to make representations, and Rye Town Council has decided to make the case for the creation of a Town Council in Bexhill.
Currently, RDC provides services to Bexhill that, in most other towns of a similar size, would be provided by a town council. Although Rother charges Bexhill Council Tax payers an additional levy for services it provides in Bexhill and nowhere else, there is a suspicion that Bexhill tax payers are not paying the true cost of those services.
Such things would be more transparent if there was a separate town council.
The Council has been aware for some time, he said, that it is sometimes difficult for those with hearing difficulties to make out what is being said in the Council Chamber. Consequently, the Council has ordered a cordless amplification system which we hope to install shortly.
Towards the end of last year, Rother asked RTC if it would be interested in taking over the Crownfields Public Conveniences. It took the opportunity to consider whether it could accept all four of Rye’s remaining conveniences. However, as has been the case previously, RTC and RDC were unable to agree terms. What the Town Council did discover, though, was that it had not fully appreciated what is involved in running conveniences – and just how costly even running one facility is.
Although RTC remain of the view that the frequency – and quality – of the cleaning visits provided under the current contract is inadequate during the main visitor season, it acknowledges the economies of scale that are achieved through Rother entering into joint contracts with other local authorities.
The Council resolved to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and to self-nominate for the Bronze award of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.
Finally, the Mayor said, everyone will more than likely be aware that the coming financial year will see many local authorities and public bodies increasing their share of the Council Tax by more than has become the norm in recent years. The main reason for this – that is, ongoing reductions in the amount of Government funding they receive – is well-known.
Parish and Town Councils do not receive a Central Government Funding Settlement, but many are under pressure from their communities to step in and take over services that District and County Councils have decided they can no longer afford to deliver.
By using its reserves, Rye Town Council has managed to limit its Band D Council Tax increase for next year to 2% – which is 3p per week. However, it won’t be able to keep this indefinitely and, if it is wished to protect local services and community assets, it is likely that higher increases in future years will have to be considered.
[Source: Cllr Jonathan Breeds, Rye’s Mayor]
Photo: Rye News library