Town celebrates and cuts

Anne Wood in St Mary's with piano

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.

Anne Wood (left) on the Country Market’s cake counter

Image Credits: Kenneth Bird , Sandra Lanigan .


  1. What wonderful news to read that Anne is to be given the highest honour that can be given by Rye Town council by becoming a Freeman of the Town. Well deserved in recognition of all her hard work
    over 40 years in and around Rye…there will be many who must have be blessed by her individually by her kindness and various charities that have helped many too….Congratulations ..

  2. Surely a Visitor Centre (and today, its’ website) are a shop window for any town that has a dependency on tourism? Like any facility which serves tourism (particularly essentials, such as toilets), close these or restrict availability and you leave yourself vulnerable to any visitor choosing to go elsewhere, or leaving with a sour taste, never to return. However as the main beneficiary of such facilities attracting tourism is traders (it certainly isn’t the locals!) it would surely be reasonable that perhaps they should contribute a little more to any shortfall?

  3. I agree with Judith and Sheila. Well done Anne. Very well deserved. I will always remember Anne when we first moved to Rye for introducing me to people, all of whom have become good friends. If it hadn’t been for Anne’s thoughtfulness, I may not be in the happy position I am, feeling well and truly integrated into the community. All due to Anne so a big thank you to her.

  4. I was interested to read that uncertainty over Brexit has affected adversely visitor numbers to the S East and this in turn has caused a decrease in the Heritage income.
    Are there statistics to back up this claim?
    If visitor numbers are down on previous years, presumably pre 2016 the year of the referendum, how much of this decrease is due to Brexit uncertainly?
    Obviously one can speculate on the reason for the decrease in numbers to the S. East,Rye and the Heritage centre but I wonder who has carried out the research and come up definitively that Brexit uncertainty is the cause.

  5. I was told, and certainly find it believable, that the closure of the Banks have caused a fall in the number of people coming into Rye to the Bank, and then proceeding to shop. The Banks, who after all have our money, have not just let individuals down but also businesses currently, and in the future.
    P.S. On a happier note many congratulations to Ann Wood.

  6. It’s wonderful to see Anne Wood being so appropriately honoured. As an annual visitor to Rye and St. Mary’s I have always appreciated Anne’s warm welcome and cheerful presence. Such a well deserved honour.

  7. Congratulations to Anne Wood. An honour so well deserved. She gives unstintingly to the town of Rye, its organisations and its residents. Gai Cooper (Mrs.)

  8. So glad to see that Rye has honoured one of its best. Anne has worked tirelessly for the town, the school, the church and the people of Rye and its environs. Countless people have benefited from her care and friendship and no one could be more worthy of this honour.

  9. Oh for goodness sake Rye, wake up and smell the tea, or coffee, well done to Anne, well deserved, BUT like your sister, Hastings, move with the times, because you have to, the banks are closing because it makes sense, cashpoints are there, people will still spend money!
    It’s nothing to do with Brexit! The Rye economy will continue to flourish, and as one that promotes Hastings dearly, as Premier Cinque Port,and Town Crier, support your council, the office of Mayor and your Town Crier, making Rye what it is, and the priceless priveleges your town commands


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