The Bonfire season is passed, and very good it was in Rye this year. The weather this Autumn has been amazing. I cannot believe I have still so much colour still left in my garden. Heavy coats remain in the wardrobe but I sense not for much longer! The winter will soon be upon us and the unkind cold winds will be blowing, and umbrellas held aloft. It can be a miserable time for those folk who are trying to keep warm with the ever increase in fuel bills. I hope this winter will be less severe than the last but Councils are prepared for the worst. Rye Town Council has preparations in place for snow and ice with more salt bins placed in strategic places ready for use. Many are locked and will be opened when required. Several councillors including myself have volunteered to clear snow from pavements and spread salt where necessary in our patches. It is hoped that the public will be likewise public spirited when the time comes.
Talking of the weather two organizations were formed to convey warnings of potential flooding should it occur, and to give reassurance. One is the Rye Emergency Action Team (REACT), and the other is the Defend Our Coasts Association (DOC). The former is concerned primarily with any emergency that might arise in Rye, whilst the other organization is concerned with the low lying Romney Marsh area. Both organizations work closely with the Environment Agency and the Romney Marsh Internal Drainage Board. REACT also conducts close contact with Southern Water over sewerage matters. You may have read that work is being conducted in Rye Harbour to replace sewer pipes, a necessity if seepage is to be avoided. REACT organized another public meeting recently at the Tilling Green Community Centre to update the public on its progress. There were concerns with Valley Park water levels but the Environment Agency are confident that the attenuation basins will be more than adequate to contain water brought down the hill during heavy rain. We are told the water will flow at a controlled rate into the river Tillingham through the hydro-brake system. It is essential that all water courses are kept clear of debris (there have been some cases of fly tipping), and the mechanisms and pumps for delivering water into the river are regularly maintained. Valley Park Estate Ltd (VPE) has been set up to own and manage the common areas of Valley Park on behalf of the residents, all of whom will pay a service charge to fund the maintenance costs On completion of the landscape works by Aron Corp’s contractors, the common areas will be handed over to VPE who will manage the estate for a year after the completion of the last house – probably in 2013. Thereafter the intention is to hand the management of the estate over to the residents. It is possible that the housing association, Orbit, who are almost certainly to own many of the new properties being built, will assist in the management of the new estate. We shall have to wait and see whether local residents will be involved. REACT continually keep a watching brief over these developments and the maintenance of the water courses. Flood wardens are being put in place to be the “eyes and ears” for anything which might alert them to any problem and can immediately contact the relative agency.
Discussions for the devolution of Services from Rother to the Town and Parish Councils are ongoing. The first meeting of the Rye Town Council’s revised Devolution Working Group met this week with five councillors present. I have already written at length in a previous column how Rother is now anxious to off load some of its services to save money being that the Council in Bexhill is severely strapped for cash having had its government grant slashed to the point that it is having to seek other ways to keep within its budget. Rother has set up its own Devolution Working Group and will be wishing to discuss with the Town and Parish Councils next year how devolution might be achieved. Even Area Committees are not discounted which will please the Campaign for a Democratic Rye who have been campaigning for such a structure for many years as being the only sensible way to devolve power from the centre.
The supermarket saga has still to be resolved. Sainsburys are relying on Rother to force Tesco to sell the “Queen Adelaide” pub by way of a compulsory purchase order. Tesco are adamant that they will not sell the pub and Sainsbury are just as adamant that they will not sell the site to Tesco which they bought from East Sussex County Council. The planning fiasco, to which I drew attention in last month’s column when Rother’s planning committee decided in their wisdom to grant permission for both companies to build a supermarket, has so angered the public at large that it is being taken further by a group in the town. And who can blame them! The planning procedure in Rother has to be sorted out. The public are denied a voice, as was witnessed when a request for a Rye Town Councillor to speak at the planning committee was ignored. Such a travesty of denying a democratic voice of the people can surely no longer be tolerated.