Thanks – and “no thanks”

The top table at Monday's annual Rye town meeting included (left to right) Rother District Councillors Howard Norton and Gennette Stevens and (far right) East Sussex County Councillor (and council leader) Keith Glazier

Two years and nearly three months have passed since Rye’s last annual town meeting and, on Monday, June 13 Rye’s new mayor, Cllr Andi Rivett, had many people to thank for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic before local residents had their chance to raise their current questions and concerns – which mainly concerned cars and their owners.

Speeding was a major concern, and problems caused by the arrival of meters and traffic wardens in the town was another.

But “thanks” came first as the last town meeting was on March 4 2020, a few weeks before the first national lockdown began to tackle the pandemic, and there were many to thank for their efforts then – and since.

Homes open up

However the war in Ukraine is a more immediate crisis to which Rye is responding, and the mayor also thanked those who were responding now by opening up their homes to refugees.

Sally-Ann Hart, Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye, admires the Rye town model in the heritage centre. L-R: Martin Blincow, Simon Parsons, Rye town Cllr Chris Hoggart, and MP Sally-Ann Hart

Many other issues were also covered in the two hour long meeting, and councillors from Rother District Council and East Sussex County Council (see photo at top) were present to answer questions about developments which may, or may not, affect Rye’s neighbourhood plan; and what may or may not be built in the town such as, possibly, a new supermarket and more housing.

Udimore Road site row re-opens ? 

And whether that housing will be housing for local people, or housing for visitors to Rye (including those with homes elsewhere), and whether that housing will include controversial sites such as the Udimore Road one where a petrol filling station’s intrusion into an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) was blocked remains to be seen.

The meeting after two years of Covid therefore covered many, many issues raised both by the mayor, Andi Rivett and other speakers, both from the platform and the floor, and this story can only skim across the surface this week – but more will be featured in coming weeks.

Rye’s response to Covid in the form of Rye Mutual Aid (RMA) was praised, and thanked, by the mayor, who also stressed that the heritage centre on Strand Quay (now run by a charity) was still very much “work in progress” and volunteers to help will be very welcome.

He also thanked Anthony Kimber for his work on the neighbourhood plan and, indeed, with RMA and the Ukrainian arrivals, and stressed the importance of the plan and “the protection from inappropriate development that it provides”.

He then went on to mention that the county council had promised a review of civil parking enforcement, which is yet to conclude, and may not address the concerns of residents – particularly those in Military Road.

Rye’s new mayor Cllr Andi Rivett reports back on the past year’s events

He did however welcome the return of the historic George hotel on Rye’s High Street after the devastating fire there, and the restoration of the Rye Triptych and the recently completed restoration of the cupola (bell tower) on the historic Town Hall’s roof.

Historic Landgate “at risk”? 

Possibly less welcome news is that Rye’s historic Landgate may be added to the Heritage at Risk register, though it may mean this would open up a range of funding opportunities – including grants from Historic England – after years of neglect.

And finally he thanked all those involved in the many Queen’s platinum jubilee events in Rye including Chris Emson, town crier Paul Goring and mayoress Cllr Rebekah Gilbert – whose two years as mayor had been totally disrupted by the Covid pandemic.

And next week’s Rye News will focus on more of the issues that need to be addressed now that Covid is apparently over.

Image Credits: Heidi Foster , Chris Lawson .


  1. “now that Covid is apparently over” ? That’s a strange comment to make. There was a growth of 300,000 new cases last week. An estimate of 797,000 people in England currently have the virus. It most certainly is not over.

  2. My comment, Andrew, was based on the lifting of Government restrictions, but I’ve looked today (June 18) at Government information sites, and in particular data for the Rye & Winchelsea postcode area. That showed there had only been 13 cases in the last 7 days so the Government policy of controlling covid’s effect with vaccinations and boosters is having an effect.
    I’ve had four jabs (in January, February, and October of last year, and April this year) but I do note that 12% of those over 12 in this patch have no jabs at all so there is still scope for more “jabbing”.
    I fear my attention in the past year has been dominated by getting two types of cancer (which is why I stepped down as Editor of Rye News about a year ago), but diseases come and go in their intensity – and how we manage them.
    For example I recall polio being regarded as a major issue in my childhood, but less so now – and flu comes and goes in its impact year on year, but we’re still wise to get a jab each year.
    Many illnesses remain a problem, but we learn to manage them – and I have pills and inhalers to cope with occasional asthma, which regularly put me in hospital in post war years.
    So let me modify my comment to “now that the major threat of Covid is apparently over and manageable”. As a journalist I was taught to write short sentences but, later as a civil servant, my sentences got longer and longer. I’m not sure which is better.
    So, everybody, get all your jabs if you haven’t yet. Covid can be managed, but you still need to take care.


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