Like shy friends they seem to shun the limelight, their achievements obscure, unheralded on their website – a website recommended in 2009 by the National Audit Office, developed we are told, but hidden from view as though the Rye Partnership wishes to keep its current officers and activities incommunicado.
But we do notice our friends for the strange statistics that have come to light: a reassessment of their assets in this last year that mysteriously all but doubles their value; debts of £294,000 (before the sale of a public building in Cinque Ports Street whose price we are told was used to reduce debt); an ongoing annual loss on ordinary activity of £96,000.
So I ask Rye Partnership, given your financial situation, why are you intending to handle the 999-year lease of a new Tilling Green Community Centre from Amicus Horizon? Of what interest is it to you? Is there any need of that extra layer between ownership and usage? It certainly was not the case with the community centre I used to run in a local village – through a committee of residents, with the parish council as trustees, a democratic body ultimately responsible for a public building. Which could and surely should be the same in this case – the 999-year lease at peppercorn rent administered by a Tilling Green CIC on behalf of the town council.
The sale of the existing school and land – from East Sussex County Council to Amicus Horizon – is not yet complete. There is still time for Rye residents to make their views heard by the town council, which should exercise its own democratic right and duty of stewardship, also with regard to the planning of the new facility.
The public for whom the centre is being built has been granted a consultation of three hours to ask questions and to present opinions – three hours on July 6 between 3-6pm that effectively exclude anyone working a normal day.
Perhaps our shy friends in the Partnership merited their recent “away day” – as Cllr Keith Glazier, chairman of the Partnership, described it – to reassess their future and their return to “core values”. Being unsure of themselves and these values, they have decided they now need a consultant to help them navigate towards the future, a consultant to be hired at our expense since, let us not forget, their money is public money.
The future of Rye Partnership and the future of the funds they handle also concerns our community. So once again, Rye’s council should become involved, as a body, not as individuals, and make sure that it influences the affairs and core values of the Partnership. After all, our shy friends might be looking for some help.