Update from the mayor

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It’s been a busy fortnight with a varied range of days.

Of importance is the work going on behind the scenes with the swimming pool. The project managers have submitted a draft business and aspirations plan to both East Sussex County Council and Rother District Council, outlining how they see the centre working in the future, with much more collaboration with stakeholders such as the hospital, the Rye Foodbank and Pelham Centre, to broaden outreach and make this an exciting social enterprise for the whole community.

Whilst some figures in the business plan will need revisiting when the picture becomes clearer on how much the dilapidations and repairs will cost, we now await to see what Rother comes back with, and also whether ESCC will prepare a new lease for the CIO to run the centre. We need a decision soon, because time is running out for major funding applications, which take many months to come to fruition. The most important of these is the public sector decarbonisation scheme, a government backed fund to make public sector buildings greener which, if successful and with the new lease in place, could see the pool running on air source heat pumps and solar. The application for solar is being prepared now in conjunction with Rother and we will know the outcome of that in the autumn.

The mayor in Westminster Abbey, before the service

I was privileged to visit Westminster Abbey again this month, this time for the grand memorial service of the late Lord Warden, Admiral Boyce. It was a wonderful event with the band of HM Royal Marines, a piper, the organ and choristers. The eulogy spoke of an exceptional man, who was very thorough, extremely well respected throughout his time in the Royal Navy, from submarine commands to training, time at the ministry and with NATO. I was particularly struck by the prayer of Sir Francis Drake (c1540-1596)

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas when storms will show you mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope and love, Amen.

Around 70 representatives of the Cinque Ports were there, as it was a freely ticketed event, including former speakers, mayors, town clerks and others who wanted to pay their respects to Lord Boyce. I went with Rebekah, as a former speaker of the Confederation of Cinque Ports. We felt that a great man had had a great send off.

After decades of seeking their return, on Monday of this week Rother District Council’s cabinet agreed unanimously to transfer the freeholds of South Undercliff and Love Lane allotments back to Rye Town Council. The council will shortly be considering how they will be managed once Rother’s lease with Rye Amenity CIC ends in November.

The following day, the town council met again to consider the future of its vacant property in South Undercliff, which has been rented out at a reduced rate for local families. Sadly, the property has not been cared for as well as we had hoped, and we have to find costs to repair and re-let, or sell. We explored the potential for shared ownership but came to the decision to continue to let the property once it has been renovated.

Last week, East Sussex County Council’s Planning Committee considered responses to the Rother Civil Parking Enforcement Review public consultation. As a result, some changes have been made to the original plans for Rye, which can be viewed in full on ESCC website.

I attended Harbour of Rye Advisory Committee (HORAC) recently and learnt that the work on the Winchelsea Road side of the Strand is now complete, and that a license to complete the work on the town-side is being considered and should start in January. The slip at the St Margaret’s Terrace end is being renovated and we hope that, together, this work will attract more yachts to visit and stay in Rye and enjoy our wonderful hostelries and restaurants from what is a pretty green form of transport. I know the harbour master has been very busy too, with a yacht sailing into the Monkbretton and railway bridges and another stranded on the tide. He is an unsung hero in the town and works quietly and tirelessly for the good of our river and seafaring friends.

Rebekah, Sophie and I visited Hythe on Sunday, July 16 for their community civic evensong, which was a lovely service of music from local choirs and to hear about the work of charities in their community. We wish the new mayor of Hythe a very enjoyable year ahead.

Rye Bay Crew has sung at a number of events recently. We sing regularly at the Waterworks to raise money for charity, and this month raised £135 from generous drinkers at this fine establishment for the Rye Museum. We have also performed at a wedding and Charles Palmer vineyard, where we return on Sunday, July 23,and at the New Inn Winchelsea on the evening of Sunday, July 30. We took part in the Songmaps project on Sunday, July 16, where we gave the premier of new words about climate change and our local environment, to favourite tunes, which seemed to go down well. I was also to be found in the bell tower, ringing with colleagues for two weddings. I also attended earlier in the week as keeper of the bells to make a few repairs, so that they could sing out loud to the whole town.

We look forward to a bit more sun and a bit less wind, and I will report back on events in a fortnight. Enjoy your summer.

Image Credits: Rebekah Gilbert .

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