Rye Town Council meets at 6:30pm on Monday, July 8 to consider making further cuts to its budget for the coming year but, more happily, to resolve to admit Aagot Anne Wood as an honorary freeman of the town.
The council will consider bestowing the distinction of freeman, the highest distinction within its power, on Anne in recognition of her rendering more than 40 years of voluntary service to the town and its townsfolk.
The freeman ceremony will be followed by the council’s planning committee and then a further closed session of the council (not held in public) will consider further cuts in the council budget.
Cuts made so far include not filling two vacant posts, freezing any grant giving for the coming year (grants last year totalled £10,950) , and not spending money on a new website for the Heritage Centre on Strand Quay, which promotes and supports tourism in the town.
The council’s total reserves have fallen to £92,434 in the last financial year from £200,270 in 2013-14.
The last council meeting was told that the Heritage Centre had had a poor start to the visitor year partially because of being open for fewer hours (a decision taken last year) had meant less revenue, but also because Brexit uncertainty had affected visitor numbers across the South East.
Last year the centre cut its costs by nearly £10,000 from £134,407 to £124,894 and also cut its stocks for sale by nearly half from £30,653 in 2018 to £19,990 in a bid to improve its finances – but, despite these steps, the new financial year has not started well.
However, as a visitor town, the council may have to decide whether it needs to subsidise the visitor centre or make it pay its way.
The council’s fixed assets principally comprise the historic town hall, two houses and the Heritage Centre and are valued in the accounts at just over £1.5 million – but this figure does not truly represent their market value.
Image Credits: Kenneth Bird, Sandra Lanigan.