Last week’s “Rye Observer” reported the departure of two key police officers from Rye, PC Nigel Collins and PCSO Neil Holden.
The report omitted to state who might replace them, but having made enquiries, I am told that both will be replaced by a PC and PCSO. Neil has been an excellent PCSO. He worked hard in the limited time available to him to deal with Rye’s parking problems in the absence of a traffic warden. A partial solution to the parking problem in Rye is to have a loading bay outside the “George Hotel” which was recommended by the Highways Forum to be restricted to 24 hours a day. This was subsequently to be modified for a less restricting loading bay with private parking permitted between 6pm and 7am proposed by the Council from pressure from the owner of “The George Hotel”. The modified scheme was approved by a narrow majority at the last Council meeting on the 28th October. This caused a great deal of dismay from the Chamber of Commerce and others, resulting in a letter being sent, signed by a member of the Chamber and another individual, to the Town Clerk demanding that the Council revisit its decision for reasons that the scheme would pose problems arising from delivery vans arriving in the morning with cars parked in the loading bay overnight not having been moved by 7.00am. Having had the required nine signatures of councillors to convene another meeting, the matter has been agreed to be reconsidered on the 16th December. Naturally this has caused much embarrassment to me as Chairman of the Highways Forum and the Council.
A report published by East Sussex County Council’s Transport and Environment Department has recommended to Cabinet the approval of the Rail Strategy and Action Plan, which will be used to influence future investment decisions by the rail industry, Government and Local Enterprise Partnerships on rail infrastructure improvements. It appears things are moving forward for the improvement of the East Coastway route between Hastings and Ashford, which it is stated will be given the highest priority. It is recognized that this route links the key areas of employment and housing growth along the south coast, as well as linking up with a number of key educational establishments. The report says that it will deliver improvements to journey times and reliability by enabling an electrified service to be run along the whole of the East Coastway. Unfortunately, the report omits to say that dual tracking will follow electrification for the Marshlink line, priority being given to the Uckfield to London line. Both are needed on this line, just as much as the inland connections. The Marshlink Action Group, with its associated railway action groups, will continue to press for both improvements.
There has been much “chatter” recently over concern for Rye’s High Street retailers if either Sainsburys or Tesco were to build a supermarket in the town. Their fears appear well founded in their arguments that business could be lost. Whitstable has been listed as one of several towns in England which, despite having a supermarket, it has demonstrated that its retailers can survive. It has a local High Street populated with a good variety of small independent businesses which have boosted the economy of the town, as well as increasing the values of its properties. The secret maybe is to plan to have a good mix of businesses which the Rye Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group is looking into, retail businesses which sit well with its restaurants, houses and bars.