Other matters at town meeting


Last week we covered the address by the mayor, Cllr. Andi Rivett, at the annual town meeting held in the Tilling Green Community Centre. There were also other matters raised and as time between the meeting and our Rye News deadline for articles was insufficient for them to be covered, we can outline some of them here:

Covid and the birds

Vaccination centre volunteers

Possibly one of the biggest local volunteer efforts of recent years has been the vaccination centre at Tilling Green. Provided by Clarity Chemists and professional vaccinators and some 60 volunteers from our community, over 50,000 vaccinations were carried out from the start in May 2021. The program is now on hold, but as the government is now considering a further session of booster jabs, our volunteers could well be back at work again in due course. For those who require it, vaccinations are still available via the NHS booking site.

Having been released from the restrictions of one pandemic, we are now looking at another – although one not yet affecting humans. Bird flu is rife and the current situation is perhaps best summed up by the chairman of REACT, Col. Anthony Kimber, who said in his report: “At the time of the last Town Meeting, bird flu was spreading and affecting both migratory and commercial and domestic bird flocks.

“Since then, there have been cases of the infection passing to other animals such as foxes and otters, presumably because they have eaten infected carcasses. Scientists are assessing the risks of the disease passing to humans. We are watching developments. Meanwhile if you come across dead birds in public spaces, do not touch them and do not allow your pets to touch them. Reporting can be via: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu”.

Rye Neighbourhood Plan

Col. Kimber, the architect of the plan, also took the opportunity of advising that this was being updated and was intended to be ready for approval by the town council by the end of the year. The plan, agreed and passed by local referendum, outlines the development of the town and requires local government – both town and district – to consider this when deciding on future planning proposals.

Central government is revising its planning policy and Rother is also making changes. The Rye plan has to conform to both, hence the updating. It is felt, though, that the changes being imposed will in reality, have little effect on Rye with the government, despite the changes, mainly contained in the Levelling Up Bill, remaining largely supportive of neighbourhood plans.

Homes for Ukraine

Since the start of the Russian invasion of their country, Rye has welcomed refugees from Ukraine and there are currently 15 family units in or around the town. Some of our original guests have, for a number of reasons, returned to their country, albeit to safer areas than the war-torn parts east and south that were their original homes.

As can be imagined, with the war dragging on and no end in sight, the personal situations of some of those remaining here have produced many issues, but the volunteers at Rye Hub, working with ESCC, RDC, Rother Voluntary Action and Rye Town Council together with individual hosts are tackling and solving these as they arise. More hosts, however, are needed.

RDC Councillors

On May 18 there will be elections for both the town council and Rother District Council and Rye News will be publishing details of all those standing for both councils in due course. We will also be providing space for those who wish to publish their own election address.

Although he was not present at the meeting, RDC councillor for Rye and Winchelsea Cllr. Norton, sent in a plea in print for Rye to be less “anti Rother”. In a spirited defence of Rother he accused Rye of “latent hostility and fierce resentment” of Rother, despite councillors doing their best to “placate local opinion”.

This did not go down well and the round of applause received when one member of the audience demonstrated the strength of feeling in the room and reminded both the current and would-be Rother councillors that their job was to represent the interests of Rye at Bexhill, and not automatically to take the part of Bexhill even when decisions were taken that were not necessarily in the best interests of their own constituents, but to demonstrate that they had fought hard for those that had elected them.

Image Credits: Nick Forman , Anthony Kimber .

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  1. The last paragraph is most unfair to both District Councillors Howard Norton and Gennette Stevens. It’s no secret that Cllr Norton at the age of 82 is standing down at the May election. He has vigorously defended the interests of Rye and Winchelsea (don’t forget Winchelsea is part of the Ward). In particular Howard has been a member of the Harbour Board, the Inland Drainage Board and the Planning Committee. Howard has also served on the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Management Committee, where he was a great advocate for the new Visitors’ Centre. He has stood up for Rye over the Rye Hire matter and set up a constructive meeting over the Landgate. Having served with him on the very exacting planning committee I can say he has participated with great intelligence and judgement and with the vigour of a man two decades younger. I count him as a good friend and colleague and wish him well in what I am sure will be a busy retirement.
    Cllr Stevens I know less well, but she has conscientiously attended planning committee and other committees and has contributed in the discussions.
    Neither councillor deserves the casual criticism in the article, and I respectfully suggest an apology is in order.

    • I don’t see it as casual criticism, it may or may not be justified but the support from the room shows that it’s born out of frustration with the representation which hasn’t been addressed satisfactorily.

      • As a report of the meeting the article is fair, but the criticism is not.
        To “remind” district councillors, present and future, that “.. their job was to represent the interests of Rye at Bexhill, and not automatically to take the part of Bexhill even when decisions were taken that were not necessarily in the best interests of their own constituents, but to demonstrate that they had fought hard for those that had elected them.” is deeply offensive and has no foundation in fact.
        Offensive because no Rye councillor would ever put the interests of Bexhill over those of their own constituents – Why would they? Untrue because I have for the past four years worked with Cllrs Norton and Stevens and know that is not the case.
        I don’t dispute there is work to be done in Rye, and the Town Council, local organisations and individuals need to use their District Councillors – whoever they are – to get the best outcomes for Rye. That requires cooperation, an understanding of a councillor’s role and an appreciation of what can be achieved and how. Above all it requires two-way communication between constituents and councillors to identify problems and opportunities and press forward.
        Our contact details are on the Rother website. Happy to carry on the discussion via email.

        • It’s worth adding that a Rye Town Councillor, bravely in view of the mood of the meeting, stood up near the end and praised Rother’s Chief Executive, Malcolm Johnson, for his work with RTC on the Pool.


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