Councillors unhappy over Rye and Winchelsea ward pairing

It was Bernardine Fiddimores last offical Rye Town Council meeting as mayor. Photo by Frank Copper
It was Bernardine Fiddimores last offical Rye Town Council meeting as mayor. Photo by Frank Copper
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Changes to the electoral boundaries are not wholly supported by Rye council as members believe the town has not been paired suitably.

A review of Rother District Council’s wards proposes to create a Rye & Winchelsea ward, which would include Icklesham.

But some Rye Town Councillors were unhappy with this as they would rather be paired with Rye Harbour, and Rye Foreign if necessary, at a meeting on Monday night (April 11).

Most councillors accepted the difficulties with trying to make the wards have the right amount of constituents, but Cheryl Creaser and others believed the wards should be based on community links, not numbers.

“Regardless of the number-crunchers or anything else, we are not numbers, we are people, we are communities and I think it is behoving of us to say something. It might not get anywhere but if we say nothing at all, then that’s even worse,” she said.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) started consulting in 2015 on its review into Rother’s warding pattern. The wards need to be designed in a certain way so each councillor has an equal amount of constituents – district councillor Lord Ampthill described it as a ‘massive jigsaw’.

Cllr Shaun Rogers was also critical of the suggestion but believed the decision had already been made by the LGBCE.

Others thought links with East Guldeford and Camber may also be more suitable as children there go to school in Rye. And Cllr Rebekah Gilbert said the current proposal would make the ward less diverse politically.

Members agreed to an official response outlining their concerns and preferences for who they are linked with.

Councillors were disappointed to hear Rother is close to selling some of its assets in Rye, including toilets at the railway station and some pieces of land, without consulting them.

A minute’s silence was held at the start of the meeting at Rye Town Hall in memory of former councillor John Izod who died in hospital on Thursday, April 7.

Cllr Michael Boyd was named as the deputy mayor elect as he accepted his nomination by John Breeds.

It was Bernardine Fiddimore’s final official council meeting as mayor and she thanked members for their support.

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