A Happy New Year to you all! The New Year certainly came in with a bang with storms causing much disruption on the 3rd January. Many trees were felled by the storm, and gardens needed a clear up of twigs and branches broken off in the high winds. But the good news is the retention basin at Valley Park did its job. The Rye Emergency Action Team (REACT) under the leadership of Col Kimber had monitored the effect of the recent extreme weather at Valley Park, and reported that the outlet pipe ran at full capacity with the hydrobrake in action. Of course the system has not been tested with more persistent down pours, high tides and storm surges. The Environment Agency is however confident the flood protection system will be able to cope with the worst that can be thrown at it. Let us hope so.
At a recent Rye Town Council Public Services meeting Col Kimber on behalf of REACT gave his quarterly report updating councillors on its past activities. He was able to give the good news about the effect of the storm in Valley Park. However, he drew attention to the continuing flooding in Marley Road after heavy rainfall where the drains there cannot handle the excess water running off Udimore Road. REACT is contacting East Sussex County Council Highways and the newly appointed Community Highway Steward for our area about the issue. East Sussex County Council has set up a dedicated Control Hub in Ringmer to manage the County highway network. It will co-ordinate all work carried out on the County highways, whether by ESCC or the utility companies, as well as responding to public enquiries. The Stewards (a total of 12 have been appointed) will be the “eyes and ears” of the Control Hub as they become more closely acquainted with their areas. REACT is in constant contact with several agencies, including Rother District Council, ESCC, Defend Our Coasts (DOC) and the Environment Agency about future issues such as work to update the multi-agency Rye Bay flood plan and other events which may affect the REACT work agenda.
The need to close the entire railway line between Hastings and Ashford to repair the Ore tunnel has caused some controversy, and thought unnecessary for the section between Rye and Ashford, the road network for buses needing to ferry passengers to and fro being long and arduous. So far it seems the alternative transport arrangements appear to be working, but it has caused much inconvenience to school children, retailers and business people depending to reach their destinations on time with journeys taking so much longer. We are told by Rail Network that the closure will enable other repairs to the line being done. Perhaps at the end of the disruption we will have an improved rail service with trains traveling faster. Can we look forward to the return of dual tracks to enable more trains to run on the line? This would be the solution to the current overcrowding, and for passengers having no longer to endure trains that do not stop at their stations? Rather than the highly expensive and controversial high speed line proposed to be built between London and Birmingham perhaps the money could be better spent on vastly improving the existing national network, which includes the small lines such as the Marshlink which is in bad need of modernizing with an electrified track. The Victorians knew how to build railways which connected to every town in the country. That all changed when the Beeching ax destroyed much of our rail network. It was thought that the advent of mass car ownership would be the end of rail travel by the masses, but as it has been proved by the chaos we see on the roads today the change back to rail travel is being reversed. I am not sure though that carving up the countryside through the centre of Britain with a high speed line is necessarily the right answer.
“There was an old lady who got locked in a lavatory…..”. I am not sure whether I have that ditty right but one shouldn’t laugh. It is very serious and could have been disastrous should the unfortunate lady had been disabled or without a mobile phone. It certainly begs investigation. Something is seriously wrong if Rother has to again apologise for another of their mishaps which seem to happen at frequent intervals. How come any person can be locked in a public toilet waiting two hours for some one from Rother to release her? Surely, as has been suggested, there should be a key holder in Rye not Polegate, 30 miles away. In any case one would have thought that the contractor should check first before locking the door. And why not a notice of closing hours displayed on the door? Then there is the chronic and disgusting nature of the toilets in the station car park which is getting the Rye Town councillors increasingly agitated. Perhaps the forthcoming meeting Rye Town Council is shortly to have with Rother District Council to discuss devolvement of services might include a discussion as to how we might best find a solution to this problem. I have always stated that the ultimate solution is the creation of Area Committees, a subject which has not been excluded from discussion at a later date with Rother. The Localism Bill is the key, but this is a complex subject which calls for a public meeting for it to understood fully, as I suspect very few people really know how it will affect Rye.