Rother under fire at Rye Town Meeting

ROTHER Council cuts came under fire at ths week’s Annual Town Meeting in Rye.

Rother is having to deal with a £1 million shortfall in Government funding.

Defending the council on the night was Rother’s director of services Malcolm Johnston who said: “Rather than just cutting services we are looking at how we can do things differently.”

But he admitted: “We are going to lose a significant number of staff for we do have to make reductions.”

Thirty - forty staff will go in the cuts, though this has mostly been absorbed by voluntary redundancy

Mr Johnston continued: “It is becoming more common to help ourselves with services, which does help reduce staffing, but we have to remember that there are many people in the district who do not use the internet and want to talk to a person on the phone or face to face.

“We have to find a balance between those who can help themselves and those who can’t, or choose not to.

“We also have to remember that for large parts of rural Rother the broadband service is slow and appalling.

“There is now more sharing of services with other councils, for example we share a benefit fraud office with Hastings.

Heidi Foster challenged the council over its glossy brochure, which costs £20,000 - £24,0000 for four editions a year.

“It is just promoting Bexhill,” she said “where does the money come for this come from?”

Mr Johnston said: “The money for this came from reserves. The magazine is only produced four times a year and we felt it is a good opportunity to get across what is happening in the whole district. I admit this edition was rather Bexhill-centric.”

One resident commented: “There is a strong feeling in the town that Rye does not get its fair share and that there is not enough consultation with Rye residents.”

Cllr David Russell said: “It does seem as if the emphasis is on Bexhill at the moment but we have to remember that Rye had its turn a few years ago when we got funding for a new sports centre and swimming pool.

“The population in Rye is one ninth of what it is in Bexhill and things do even themselves out.”