Fire raises concerns

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An extension ladder was needed to get at the rooftop fire at the George Hotel

Rye Town Council, which like Parliament and many courts and councils usually does not meet in August, is holding a special meeting next Monday August 19 at 6:30pm in the Town Hall in Market Street at the top of the town.

Three items are on the agenda: The George Hotel fire, the date of mayor making next year, and the council’s finances, the last being discussed in private without the public present.

It is hoped that senior fire and police officers will be present for the discussion on The George where the High Street frontage has the pavement closed off with a barrier alongside the road.

Concerns have been raised over whether this is adequate protection for pedestrians and cars, particularly in Lion Street down the side of the hotel, should debris fall. (There have been very strong winds recently).

Those concerns include the overall risk of any part of the building collapsing and the impact on the High Street/Lion Street of building/restoration work.

Other concerns may include what lessons need to be learned from the fire itself and how emergency services tackled it – and implications for dealing with future similar emergencies.

For example parked cars (whether parked legally or illegally) can pose problems, as can the Landgate arch entrance to the High Street

Other access points in this historic town all raise issues when large numbers of emergency vehicles (fire, ambulance and police) have to attend a major incident potentially involving many casualties.

The other public item on the agenda is switching next year’s Mayor Making to Friday  May 8 (the rescheduled early May public holiday) which will be the subject of local commemorations of the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, the end of the war in Europe.

The council will then go into private session to consider its finances, the depletion of its reserves and losses made by the Heritage Centre.

Following the closure of the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) in Lion Street by the District Council, enquiries have gone to the Strand Quay Heritage Centre, and they do take up staff time – without necessarily generating income.

The Heritage Centre is however a service for the town and attractions including the museums, galleries, churches, shops, pubs and eating places, so it is arguable that the council should subsidise it to some extent – and not expect it to be totally self-financing.

It is also arguable that the Centre (like the town) is subject to events it can not control – like the weather, the state of the economy, Brexit, and changes in where people choose to holiday – and the council will need to strike a balance between providing a necessary service at the Centre and covering its costs.

Image Credits: Rye News library .

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