Anger continues over council planning ‘fiasco’

WITH planners at Rother due to revisit the Tesco application yesterday (Thursday) there is still widespread anger in the town over the way the last planning meeting was conducted.

A number of individuals have made complaints to the district council and it is understood complaints have been made to the Ombudsman – a local government watchdog.

There was an angry mood at Monday’s full council meeting in Rye weeks after Rother’s planning department was forced to make a U-turn after the committee approved and application from Sainsburys to open a supermarket in Rye and rejected an almost identical application from Tesco.

That planning meeting, on September 22, has been described in Rye as “a farce” and “fiasco”

Rye councillor Granville Bantick said: “ It beggars belief that the committee felt one application was so different to the other.”

Professor Keith Taylor, from the Democracy for Rye group, said: “Everyone in Rye I have spoken to is disgusted by what went on and the protests are continuing.”

He added: “Rye’s representatives at the meting were treated with contempt

“ Rye’s Chair of Planning,  Councillor Adam Smith, had requested a voice at Rother’s meeting. His request to speak was not even acknowledged. Most other District and Borough Councils in England allow participation from Parish and Town Councillors and from the public.

“At the same Planning meeting, District Councillor, Sam Souster, was accused of conversing with some of his constituents during the coffee interval and, on very spurious grounds, forbidden to vote on Sainsbury’s application, which was passed in the end by one vote.”

Resident John Howlett asked the Town Council to consider a formal complaint to both the Local Government Ombudsman and to MP, Amber Rudd.

There was widespread criticism of the District Council’s Planning Committee both by members of the Rye public and by many council members present. It was suggested that a formal complaint was made to the District Council about its handling of the supermarket issue.

At the same Town Council meeting last Monday, Councillor Mike Eve proposed an urgent meeting between Rye Town Council and senior representatives of Rother District Council to discuss changes in planning procedure, the devolution of services and the overall status of Rye.

This proposal was passed unanimously and the Council agreed to set up a working party with immediate effect.