The Allotments war continues with another salvo from both directions over the trenches! Another letter from Rother District Council arrived in the Town Clerk’s office threatening Rye Town Council that if we do not accept the 99-year lease then Rother would seek alternatives for managing the allotments.
At the Full Council meeting on the 25th June Rye Town Council made it very clear by rejecting the latest offer on the grounds that Rother District Council’s ownership of the remaining allotment sites was not proven – and acceptance of a lease could be construed as support for unlawful land transfers and registrations. The proposal was approved by a majority of the councillors present. The Rye Allotments Association apparently have sufficient documentation to discredit the Rother District Council’s position, and is confident that the allotments can now be proven, without a shadow of doubt, to be “statutory”, meaning of course that the allotments are rightfully owned by Rye Town Council, and are required to be transferred back to Rye.
Headline news in the “Observer” last week that there was a risk of a landslide after cracks appeared at the historic Gun Gardens was startling to say the least. It does not take too much imagination of the chaos and the danger to the public if the cliff did collapse on to the A259. It is not the first time that the danger has been noticed for, as has been reported, there was a landslip some years ago which caused the cottages in Fishmarket Road to be evacuated. The cost of shoring up the cliff then was prohibitive giving cause for the developers, who wished to build a row of new houses there, to reconsider. The geological assessment commissioned by Rother District Council undertaken by a structural engineer has shown a definite degradation of the cliffs that had been buried over centuries of beach deposits. It is considered a very steep slope which has contributed to the earth movement and caused the cracks along the top of the slope. Rother District Council, being the responsible council to investigate the problem has said that it will cost £45,458 to have the cliff investigated further, and asked Rye Town Council to consider contributing to the cost. No breakdown was given how this sum was made up. It was considered that due to the increased frequency of Rother seeking contributions from Rye Town Council it would seek a meeting to discuss areas of co-operation, but the feeling of many is that as the land is owned by Rother any costs should be borne by them.
Another bone of contention has arisen over Rother’s plan to charge residents in the district £25 per annum on top of council tax to collect garden waste from the doorstep. Some other local authorities do make a charge, others do not. Whilst it can be said a reasonably small sum to pay residents feel quite rightly that it is an affront to charge twice for this service and say, as councilors do also, that it is the principle that matters. As a keen gardener myself I find the service invaluable and appreciate my garden waste being collected. Where else would I put it if the only alternative was to take loads of bags to the tip. We have yet to have a convenient waste disposal depot in this area, and I would bet there would be much more fly tipping if we rejected the wheelie bin. Regrettably, I cannot be without this service and rather than be a martyr and give up my wheelie bin I shall have to accept the charge, but under protest!
The Rye Neighbourhood Plan is receiving much attention by councillors who have a Working Group that meets regularly to discuss progress. The importance of Rye having its own Plan cannot be underestimated. Instead of local people being told what to do, the Government think that local communities should have genuine opportunities to influence the future of the places where they live. This is given much airing in the Localism Bill recently enacted in Parliament. The Bill introduced provision for communities to develop Neighbourhood Plans, but it is emphasized that they must be led by Parish/Town Councils. The Working Group has written to the town’s various organizations to seek their views and support. But, as Col Anthony Kimber has stressed, it must not be left there, but public consultation too is required. He rightly suggests a public meeting to ascertain the public’s views which are so important. We must all be involved if we are to succeed in establishing a Plan for Rye which everyone feels is right for the town.