Observer Comment: An ongoing supermarket war and a money-grabbing RDC

RYE:

MORE shots were fired in Rye’s ongoing supermarket war this week as big guns Tesco and Sainsbury’s went toe to toe.

The planning battle to build a new store on the derelict school site has been raging for the best part of a year.

Now it looks as if we could be in the bizarre situation of both multi-nationals being granted planning permission. It is hard to see where that will leave those in Rye who are desperate for a new supermarket.

There will be more long delays as the two firms fight a protracted legal battle to break the stalemate.

One thing is certain - two supermarkets into one site will not go.

Many people are desperate for more choice, competitive prices and much-needed Sunday opening, not to mention the extra jobs that a new supermarket will create.

Surely now it is time to take another look at planning regulations that allows someone to submit an application for land that is not even in their ownership.

It is right that Rye Conservation Society is concerned about the design. This, after all, is a legacy the town will have to live with for a long time.

But let’s not forget when speaking fine words about the “special and unique character of Rye” that we still have a run-down boarded-up garage site in the heart of the town and a row of derelict eye-sore cottages on Fishmarket Road. It is hard to believe that a new supermarket will look worse than these.

................................................

BATTLE:

WHAT does Rother District Council have against Battle?

That must surely be the question people are asking this week.

The money-grabbing council, which seems determined to squeeze every penny it can out of visitors to the town, wants to make thousands of pounds by abolishing free overnight parking and abolishing the one hour parking bracket at the town’s Rother-run car parks.

And the Scrooges even want to do away with free Christmas parking.

The town’s chamber of commerce has done such stirling work trying to bring shoppers back to the town after the grim days of the recession, only to find their efforts scuppered by Rother.

And if that wasn’t enough of a blow to the town’s economy, the council has also deemed that Battle’s Tourist Information Centre should be downgraded to effectively a handful of leaflets and a phone.

Any sensible person would see that a town which boasts one of the most important sites of historical significance in the country, deserves something better.

And Battle certainly deserves better than Rother.

* Meanwhile travellers who set up home at Greenacres in Battle without planning permission, have won their appeal to stay on the site.

Last year, Rother was ordered to find a new site for travellers in the district within the next two-and-a-half years.

Eighteen months on, it’s not entirely clear what strides, if any, Rother has made in actually identifying land for the new site it has been told it must provide.

It’s about time the council got itself into gear and made this issue a priority, for the sake of both travellers and Battle residents so as to avoid further prolonged and expensive planning arguments.