Mr. Tolhurst’s letter has some validity because the standards we are used to have certainly deteriorated, but it is easy to criticise across the board without identifying the reason for this general decline. I cannot speak for East Sussex County Council (ESCC), but I am in a position to comment on Rother District Council (RDC).
There is no doubt that there has been a deterioration in the delivery of services and this can be confirmed by the increase in the number of complaints and enquiries I now receive, often after RDC have not responded in a satisfactory way. This crisis has been brought about by the Government’s lack of providing adequate funding. Despite this, RDC made the popular decision to freeze the community charge for four years, and has had to compensate for this policy by reducing staff numbers considerably. Obviously, this has an effect on service provision which has been paid for and expected by RDC’s residents.
Regarding the two development sites mentioned, the delays are deplorable and unwarranted, but can be explained.
Supermarket – Ferry Road.
The delay (now over two years) is completely due to the intransigence of the two companies involved, who are happy to resist the appeals from the MP downwards to consider the town and resolve this issue.
It is generally agreed that a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on one or the other supermarket companies would be inappropriate as it would be a very expensive gamble for RDC, but a CPO on both companies would allow the site to be redeveloped or acquired by Rye Academy, which is successful and expanding.
Cottages – Fishmarket Road.
I have personally been involved in this issue since 2002 and have a file from that time.
The problem has been the original owners were clearly reluctant to develop. Others have been interested since, but RDC planners were always adamant that the cliff had to be adequately stabilised.
The Development appears to be now complete, so it is hoped that the refurbished cottages will be occupied soon.
I personally have a good relationship with the council officers, who are doing their best under the present difficult circumstances. As an opposition councillor, despite my experience, I rarely am able to influence policy at Council, but locally I would like to think my efforts are appreciated.
It is clear that Mr. Tolhurst has a poor opinion of his local councillors, so with the local elections taking place next year I would suggest he puts himself forward and, if elected, we can all look forward to how well he can resolve the present difficulties and show the present councillors how things should be done.
Yours faithfully, Cllr. Sam Souster, RDC, Rye Ward