It’s that time again


Every four years we have the opportunity of electing, from among our number, 16 to form Rye Town Council and a further 2 to represent Rye on Rother District Council. By May 4 the current four-year term will have been completed and on that day new councils will be elected.

Being a councillor is not a glamorous job. We do, of course, see our town councillors parading in their gowns and hats, with the mayor in all his finery on ceremonial occasions, but for the most part it is about reading endless emails and attending council meetings dealing with the minutiae of town administration. It is not always easy and often boring. A half-hour discussion at a council meeting over the state of the public loos by the station, for example, is important but hardly headline-grabbing stuff. But nevertheless, at least once a month on a Monday evening they tackle an agenda that can consist of anything from the loos mentioned above, to the swimming pool, potholes, planning applications, clean streets, traffic and so much more.

The power of the town council may be limited these days, but this is where our Rother council representatives come in. At least one of them is normally expected to be in attendance at most town council meetings, both to report back on events at the district council and to take to that council the views and requirements of this town.

In considering who to elect, therefore, it is important to reflect not just on which political party, if any, that the candidates may belong to (for their job here is to look after the interests of Rye before national party policy) but to decide who will do the job best. In the case of district councillors, this means who will best represent Rye amongst all the Bexhill councillors (who make up nearly 50% of Rother District Council) and not feel they need to represent and consistently defend Rother when reporting back to Rye, as has been the case with some (but not all) Rother councillors in the past, both from Rye and neighbouring wards.

This year the town council has just 15 candidates, out of a total 16 available seats and for this reason there will be no election and all candidates will be appointed. Their names are given below. Normally, we would publish an address from each candidate, but this time we will not be doing so. Because none of them are to submit themselves to the electorate, all except for two have decided it is not necessary to let the public know who they are, what they stand for and why they should be on the council. Some readers may feel that this is a mistake, but nevertheless it is the decision that the majority have taken.

So far as the Rother council election is concerned, there are six candidates for two seats on the council. We have asked all of them to provide us with an election address to publish in these columns and for those who have you will find them, in alphabetical order, on the following pages in our special election section.

The candidates for both non-elected Rye as well as Rother are as follows:

Rye Town Council:

David Bookless, Michael Boyd, John Breeds, Cheryl Creaser, William Everett, Bernadine Fiddimore, Rebekah Gilbert, Vagn Hansen, Chris Hoggart, Pat Hughes, Jo Kirkham, Sue Learoyd-Smith, Andi Rivett (mayor), Sean Rogers, Andy Stuart (deputy mayor).

Rother District Council:

Cheryl Creaser, Guy Harris, Chris Hoggart, Simon McGurk, Genette Stevens, Jayne Stevens.


Image Credits: John Minter .

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  1. I have to say that, during 20+ years as Town Clerk, I have never heard a Town Councillor suggest that their role is boring. The amount of ‘routine admin’ Councillors are ‘exposed to’ is kept to the minimum necessary and they receive information that might not come to their attention if they were not on the Council. There is always something requiring their consideration. The Town Council’s powers are actually quite extensive because it is qualified to exercise the General Power of Competence. What is limited is the Town Council’s influence over important services and facilities that are the responsibility of other bodies – as well as sourcing sufficient funding to take on these services so that there is local control and accountability. It remains the case that the Town Council is willing to do this, subject to the financial and other resource considerations stacking up.

  2. I have been looking at the current nominations for Parish Councils in Rother District and frankly have been very disheartened to see so few people have put their names forward

    This seems to underline the problem generally of getting volunteers for many local community groups, particularly from the younger generation.

    Out of 51 Parish/Town Councils in Rother, there are only 4 contested elections and 2 of these are because of local issues in Camber and Northiam which have galvanised people to stand. Many Councils are well short of numbers and Udimore for instance has one nomination for 5 places.

    For the past 2 elections I have complained and I will say so again now, that the way the Electoral Authorities operate the rules does not encourage residents to stand. In Rother’s case and I suspect elsewhere, prospective candidates have to take their nomination papers personally to the Town Hall and by prior appointment strictly within 10am and 4pm over 7 days excluding Saturday and Sunday. For the outposts, this means a round trip of at least 35 miles and not an easy journey at the best of times.

    Working under this rigid procedure, how on earth do we expect or encourage working people, mothers, and young people etc to go through these hoops? Local Government even at the lowest level, must be represented by as wide a range of the public as possible. Instead many other villages, Parish Councils are made up exclusively of the retired

    Yet again we will see the absurdity of Councils having to rerun the nomination processes with all the additional financial and human resources costs this will involve

    All this system does is demean the roles of Parish Councils when they all have relevance in the community in trying to make life better for every resident and regrettably the present system is merely continuing the slow death of local democracy. This must be reversed.

    I would hope that in coming months the Electoral Commission or whoever to at least review the present unsatisfactory way Parish Council elections are run

  3. Another “news” article by John Minter which contains some contentious and perhaps inflammatory comment ( boring town council matters; suggesting that councillors don’t want the public to know who they are). Interesting to note that John doesn’t appear on the Rye News about page as part of the team, perhaps his contributions should be limited to the opinion section or at least given better attention by the editorial team ?

  4. This seems the post pertinent thread upon which to post – I don’t know if RN wants to circulate this reminder on its social media channels too?

    Last night I spoke to an elderly man who intended to vote but could not, as he had no ID.

    The deadline to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate has now passed, but please be aware, the Electoral Commission has advised, you CAN STILL VOTE with an expired document such as a passport if the photo still looks like you.

    This may not help younger disenfranchised voters, but don’t lose your right to vote if you can.

    Blue Badges are also valid forms of ID.

  5. Richard Farhall, Clerk to Rye Town Council is spot on. Serving as a Town Councillor is anything but boring. Our meetings are lively, sometimes impassioned, discussions can become heated, opinions strongly expressed and I rarely come away without feeling a sense that attendance was well worth the effort. We may not have total power over everything but we have huge influence and endeavour to use it wherever it is needed. I have been involved in many exciting – yes really – projects in my time with Rye Town Council and am still as full of enthusiasm as I was when first elected. It is a great way to get involved in fighting for the things we all value about Rye. I still, after years and years, feel a sense of awe when I step into the Town Hall Chamber where so many throughout history have debated and decided matters that determine the prosperity of our town. We have a vacancy on the council at the moment. I can say with all confidence, the right person with the right values and intentions who fills that space will find being on the council anything but boring. If anyone reading this is minded to find out more, The Clerk will fill you in, but so will I or any of the others proud to be currently serving as Councillors here in Rye.

  6. URGENT: VOTER ID – It’s not too late!!!

    If you have no photo ID bcs yours has been lost, stolen, destroyed or damaged you can still apply for an Emergency Proxy Vote up to 17.00 on Polling Day, Thurs May 4th. This can be done online. So you can still make it if you’re quick!
    Link below:

    NB: The Proxy Voting deadline has passed, this is an Emergency Proxy.

  7. I share Bernardine’s sentiment regarding a sense of awe. As a young barrister I appeared in Rye Magistrates which sat in the Town Hall. This caused the sitting magistrates some confusion as I had often and regrettably appeared there in a different capacity!

  8. Congratulations to the two Labour councillors being elected to represent Rye at district level maybe a tactical vote for many like myself, but a welcome change for them to stand up for our town, something we haven’t seen a lot of,over the last 4 years

  9. Thank you folk of Rye and Winchelsea! And thanks John for your vote.
    Me and Cheryl are hugely honoured and proud to be given the trust you have placed in us and we are already working to justify that trust. We have not made and will not make empty promises, we will do as much as is in our power to be your voice at Rother.
    This has been a momentous result locally and nationally, we are all very much part of that change in our two towns and we are listening to you. Thank you again, you’ll be hearing from us again before too long!


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