Partnership plan pending

7
1777
A Rye Partnership bin

The Rye Partnership, a joint venture between local authorities and various community representatives, will mark its 25th anniversary in 2021. In March 2020, the Rye Partnership was meant to be presenting a four-year business plan covering the ‘key aims and objectives and strategic projects that the Rye Partnership will be focussing on over the next four years.’

Rye News has contacted Councillor Keith Glazier, who took over as chair in 2005, from former leader of East Sussex County Council Peter Jones, to get an update on their delayed business plan. At the time of writing, we have yet to receive a response but will publish it once it arrives.

In advance of the publication of the delayed business plan, Rye News has taken the opportunity to look back at the organisation’s often troubled history.

The Rye Partnership was established in 1996 to ‘bring together key stakeholders to develop a local community response to the socio-economic problems prevalent in the area.’ In its early days the Rye Partnership was successful in obtaining external funding from SEEDA (the South East Economic Development Agency, one of nine development agencies that covered the UK at the time) and EU funding to help with regeneration efforts and to boost local skills and the tourist economy. In addition, the Partnership received annual financial support from Rother District Council.

Up to 2008 the Rye Partnership received just under £2million from SEEDA and a further £289,000 from EU funding streams. After a number of years, local residents started to raise concerns regarding the performance and management of the Partnership. A subsequent investigation by the National Audit Office (NAO) in 2009 resulted in the publication of their damning report.

The report highlighted the Partnership’s high staff turnover and dependence on expensive external consultants, with the NAO estimating £145,000 was spent on external consultants over the five-year period to 2008.

Extract from the NAO report on Rye Partnership

Further concerns were raised by the NAO around the issue of conflict of interest, saying, ‘In a town with a small population, such as Rye, it is inevitable that some of these people will have other personal, commercial or political interests in the town’ but went onto expand, ‘our review of the activities of the Partnership has noted a number of potential or perceived conflicts of interest. These have not always been dealt with in a transparent manner.’

Partnership criticised over communication failures

Where the NAO criticised the Rye Partnership most was in its failure to communicate to the local community. A key recommendation was that, ‘the Partnership develop a communications strategy for informing the community of its progress.’ It also noted that when the Partnership did communicate, some of the financial information they distributed was incorrect.

The NAO commented ‘More recently the Partnership produced a guide, The Rye Partnership – Past, Present and Future, summarising the work of the Partnership since it was first set up and setting out the strategic priorities of the Partnership going forward…Our analysis of the single regeneration budget (SRB) expenditure has revealed that the Partnership has underreported the amounts actually spent on SRB projects in the guide.

“For example, it quotes only one year’s expenditure (£10,000) for the Animate Youth Centre project which actually spent £60,000, and the Computers for Schools project spent £125,000, not £25,000.’

The NAO report went on to say, ‘The Partnership acknowledges that its communication with local residents could, at times have been improved, particularly through the use of a website.’

What is Tilling Green’s future ?

Despite these recommendations, it would seem that the Rye Partnership hasn’t heeded the NAO’s advice. Its current website contains very little information and hasn’t been updated since 2019 and, to date, there has been little in the way of communication with their main stakeholders, such as the Tilling Green Community Centre CIC, or the wider community, on their future strategy.

Rye Harbour stores, a Rye Partnership asset

Meantime, the Rye Partnership continues to control a number of assets in and around Rye including Tilling Green Community Centre, Rye Fisheries and Rye Harbour stores but, with SEEDA and EU funding streams long ceased, it is unclear what their future strategy is, or if there any further plans to help regenerate Rye.

Councillor Keith Glazier – one busy individual
One reason why Keith Glazier may not have the time to respond to Rye News’ request for an update on the Rye Partnership’s strategic direction is because he is such a busy person. As well as being Rye’s elected representative on East Sussex County Council (ESCC), leader of ESCC, and chair of Rye Partnership, he is also chair of Transport for the South East (TfSE) a sub-regional body that ‘determine what investment is needed to transform our region’s transport system and drive economic growth‘. Keith was re-elected as TfSE Chair in July 2020 and is standing again, at the age of 69, in May’s local elections as the Conservative Party candidate to represent Rye on ESCC.

Cllr Keith Glazier, Council Leader and Rye’s representative, ESCC

In addition, Keith also lists being chair of ESCC Cabinet; member of the County Joint Consultative Committee; chair of East Sussex Health and Wellbeing Board; chair of ESCC Governance Committee and lead member for Strategic Management and Economic Development.

Keith lists further appointments and is a member of a plethora of outside bodies including the County Council’s Network Executive Committee; County Council’s Network Council; Dungeness A & B Power Stations – Local Community Liaison Council; Harbour of Rye Advisory Committee; Local Government Association’s General Assembly; and Rye Harbour Nature Reserve Management Committee.

After reading this exhausting list, it’s amazing that Keith finds the time to fully represent the interests of Rye within ESCC.

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy , National Audit Office , ESCC .

7 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you so much for this article. I remember the days of Mark Evershed and Peter Jones. It clearly would be right to understand what the governance arrangements are now. Perhaps the Town Council need this on their agenda? Perhaps Rother?

  2. Perhaps Mr Glazier should not run for re-election considering he is so very busy with so many commitments. The town appears to be let down with the inaction of the Rye Partnership, which he chairs. I also think it would be prudent for him and others involved with the Rye Partnership to be transparent about their interests, financial and otherwise, in the town. I make no accusations whatsoever, but in fairness to the funding bodies, both domestic and EU, and in fairness to the town, this article raises many questions that need to be answered.

  3. It is recommended that company directors stay in position for no longer than seven years, because after that they become stale and have little input. Could that be the case with Cllr. Glazier?

    Whilst I apprecaite that it is sometimes difficult to find new faces to occupy posts such as those listed for Cllr. Glazier, nobody is irreplaceable. Often, unless a post becomes vacant, volunteers cannot be found but when it is a new face appears. Perhaps Rye Partnership needs new blood.

  4. I have known Keith for many years and I suspect he is selected for these dozens of posts because he has a ‘safe pair of (Conservative)
    hands’ and ‘will not rock the boat’. These are not bad attributes but don’t fit well in appointments such as regeneration.
    One has only to look around Rye and surrounding villages to see evidence of lack of expenditure. Interestingly your heading photo proves my point: litter bins in Rye are old and not fit for purpose and, as they fall to pieces, are not replaced.
    Cllr Procak is right: questions need to be asked about past and present spending and governance.
    Perhaps some new blood is needed in the Rye Partnership.

  5. How one must agree with some of the comments attributed to keith Glazier, that with advancing years, maybe is now to step down for a younger model, to lead the partnership which has apparently become stale,into the 21st century. Nobody is denying in the early years the Fishmarket was one of their proudest moments for the town, sadly one of the negatives was paying a reported 100k, to clear the central garage site for a new library for us all, which in the end strangely never materialised.

  6. Perhaps Clllr Glazier needs to think about what committees he is chairing? It’s clear that he’s not focusing on Rye’s needs and he is our only representative on ESCC.

  7. Well, it appears he has plenty of time to support the developers along the Harbour Road, to the extent that we’ve now got excruciating shenanigans about whether ESCC (and the same developers) are in any way responsible for the safety of the A259 function and the significant additional HGV traffic this will route through Rye. People talk about the “Rye Mafia”…

    Details here: https://www.ryenews.org.uk/news/whos-in-charge-of-what-then

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here