A few days ago a visitor to Rye, and who was reading Rye News for the first time, asked what the main issues were in 2017. It will probably come as no surprise that my immediate answer was traffic, parking and the Landgate and having looked through past issues, it certainly seems that these are the subjects that come up again and again.
So are we any further forward on any of them?
Well, with parking, the answer is definitely yes. The decision has finally been taken by Rother to investigate the introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE), possibly in conjunction with neighbouring Wealden district. So when are we going to see a warden ticketing all those illegally – and often stupidly – parked cars and vans? The answer would seem to be, don’t hold your breath as it’s not going to happen any time soon. There are a great many bureaucratic hoops that Rother has to jump through first and we are unlikely to see CPE in place before the end of the year at the earliest and probably not until 2019.
This does, though, beg the question, where will all the vehicles that can no longer park in the town centre, go? The fear is that CPE will simply move the problem from one area to another. Already Military Road is getting clogged with parked cars and there have been similar complaints from Tilling Green and Tillingham avenue. Is park and ride an answer? Can more parking space be made available? The old lower school site comes to mind (although housing developers already have their eye on that). Could the unsightly mess of the former Grist Mill pine warehouse and the adjoining filling station site be properly landscaped to make an attractive parking area (as much as any car park can be made attractive)? Would a complete revision of the traffic flow through the town help, perhaps pedestrianising the High Street, or making it shared space?
I certainly don’t know the answer, but these are questions that both Rye Town Council and Rother need to ponder on while CPE is making its slow way through the red tape.
And what of the other cause celebre, the Landgate? The surveyor’s report has finally been released and it is clear that considerable expenditure is required to, at the very least, stabilise the structure and prevent further rapid deterioration. Rother have said it has no money to spend on it other than using high pressure hoses on the interior, periodically, to remove the pigeon droppings. (Readers may wish to note Councillor Andy Stuart’s comment on Rother’s state of penury under this Landgate article). The Rye Conservation Society seem to be happy with this situation and to allow the edifice to crumble. Their argument is that no other body would be prepared to take it on, although without producing evidence on any research undertaken to justify this stance. The newly-formed Friends of the Landgate appear to take the opposite view, that there may well be a way to raise the necessary funds or find a new owner, and before dismissing this, every effort should be made to investigate the possibility.
We may hear more of the Friends plans at a public meeting they are organising for this coming Sunday, January 21. But at the moment, this saga shows every sign that it is going to run and run.
Another regular subject to occupy our columns has been our railway, the way it is run by the unbelievably awful Southern Rail (recently awarded the accolade of the worst railway company in the country) and the labour problems that have affected it (and, therefore, all its users). Once again, this is going to be a continuing problem, with periodic strikes continuing, no sign of any new rolling stock to ease overcrowding (the government own this part of the national rail network, Southern just ‘manage’ it) because, the DoT say, there is no money. As a result, a new timetable, although there are issues raised by MLAG and still to be determined, will be imposed on rail travellers from May. This is another subject to be discussed at a public meeting, shortly.
Despite these problems, however, one must not forget all that is good about living here and which we have also tried to reflect throughout the year in the columns of this newspaper. The festivals that give pleasure to many and also bring in the tourists to boost our economy, the music from bands, groups and individuals to be found in locations around the town on most weekends. Art exhibitions, talks, plays, clubs and organisations, and even the annual invasion of the rockabillies are all part of the fabric of the town and long may that continue.
We are now in mid January. This may be the depth of winter, with storms, rain and low temperatures, but March and the official start of Spring is only six weeks away and not long after that we will revert to British Summer Time and light evenings. Hooray!
Photos: John Minter
Image Credits: Rye News library .