Rye’s heritage centre needs new employees

Rye Heritage Centre SUS-150928-154848001
Rye Heritage Centre SUS-150928-154848001

Rye Heritage and Information Centre may be unable to operate unless it can find new staff within the next few months.

The current management team is leaving at the end of March 2017, with general manager Peter Cosstick stepping down after eight years.

He originally agreed to run the centre for three years.

Peter presented a report at a meeting of Rye Town Council’s policy, resources and general purposes committee recently.

In it, it said the centre’s income generation up to October 31 this year had fallen by eight per cent, which equates to £9,700, and that the centre was looking to make potential savings on other costs in the region of £7,000.

Rye Heritage and Information Centre, based at The Old Sail Loft, Strand Quay, currently operates with five part-time employees but as of March 31 next year, Mr Cosstick said, there will only be two members of staff left with no management team.

He told the town council at the meeting, which was held on November 21, that if the intention is to run the centre for 2017-18, recruitment of new staff needs to start in January so as to train up staff from March 1.

“If this is not achieved numerous student group bookings may have to be cancelled, which includes those already booked for 2017,” he said.

Rye Heritage Centre receives a lot of income from students, with 25 to 30 per cent of visitors to the centre being foreign students.

The centre receives around 100,000 visitors each year and is home to the Rye Town Model, a complete sound and light show that brings to life 700 years of Rye’s history.

The centre was established by Rye Town Council in 1990 and, incorporating Rye Tourist Information Centre, was run successfully by it, with the support of Rother District Council, until 2005.

Since 1990, it has had a second extension and internal upgrade in 2001-02, funded largely by a Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) grant, through the South East England Economic Development Agency (SEEDA). The centre is host to a working collection of Old Pier amusement machines, and has a variety of gifts, books and maps.

“The centre continues to be a valuable source for face-to-face visitor information and major attraction and there is still enormous potential to increase visitor footfall,” Peter said.

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