Cllr Granville Bantick wished us to record his objections to the appointment of a town steward. Here is the statement he read to councillors at the meeting:
I welcome this subject being brought before the council for further consideration. Whilst I supported the recommendation of the policy and resources committee on October 13 that the post be approved in principle, I cannot support this appointment ahead of having a community warden for the town. I will explain why.
There is an obvious need for greater traffic management in Rye. The recent incidents of fire appliances not reaching their destinations when called out due to vehicles blocking their path cannot be allowed to continue. Commercial vehicles are the greatest culprits for causing traffic chaos in the town. It is hoped the proposed loading bay in the High Street when in it is eventually in place will alleviate the problem, but only if the space reserved for loading and unloading is observed and not used by unauthorised drivers. Like all parking it needs management by someone who can be around at frequent intervals to ensure no vehicle is parked illegally. The police have belatedly done occasional swoops on unsuspecting motorists who have parked on double yellow lines, but their response is very limited due to their having to attend to other duties. In view of this there is a need for a community warden to act as back up. Such a post is not uncommon in many towns. The village of Headcorn where I once lived, and visit fairly regularly, has a community warden. I spotted a report which he writes monthly in the parish. I shall be visiting him shortly to discover more about his duties, and learn what it costs the council.
My argument is the matter of priority. At present we cannot afford both posts, but the question surely is which appointment should be pursued first? What is more important for Rye? To maintain a tidy town with someone picking up litter and removing weeds etc, or having someone appointed to manage the traffic in Rye, and giving a measure of protection to the town against fire, should a fire appliance not be able to reach its destination? Rye with its ancient timber houses and shops is a potential tinderbox should a fire breakout. A small fire as happened last week whilst a shop front was being renovated with a blowtorch could have become a bigger conflagration. The same applies to ambulances which could also be blocked. This council has a duty to protect its citizens in conjunction with the police and emergency services.
I therefore propose that this council postpones the appointment of a town steward in favour of having a community warden in post for Rye. Meanwhile, I will be pursuing more finite costings for such a post which I will let the town clerk have as soon as possible when my investigations have been completed.