Time to request Rye allotment review

Cllr Smith’s personal attack on my integrity in her letter Observer 11/3/11 is certainly not an election ploy, as she infers.

For two years the allotments were a constant agenda item when I was chairman of Rye Town Council (RTC). As chairman one must be impartial, direct proceedings in a businesslike manner, and not take partisan stances. After completing my chairmanship, I was away from council for hip replacement surgery, and only comparatively recently after my return have the allotments returned to council.

I admit that the 125 year lease offered by RDC appeared to me to be do-able, but it did not appeal to Rye Allotments Association. That is why at the last RTC meeting I voted to reject the offer of a lease, obviously missed by Cllr Smith.

Following that council meeting, and with RDC’s’s spending review in mind, the situation needed clarification, understood and welcomed by the affairs officer of the Rye Allotments Association, who welcomes my intervention.

At the Annual Town Meeting I raised the matter with RDC’s director of resources and asked why RDC is so determined to retain the two allotments sites. Had Cllr. Smith been present she could have asked the question.

The situation is:-

. RDC knows that Rye should have retained its allotments, as is clear in the Local Government Act 1972.

. The allotments are a loss-making service.

. RDC has to make over £1m in savings.

. RDC is looking to devolve some services to the two towns and parishes.

A sterilisation clause could ensure the land is not disposed of or developed by a future RTC, which would protect it in perpetuity. Such a clause might be more effective than ‘statutory’ should government legislation change.

Perhaps now is the time to request a review.

I hope my stance is now understood by everyone and that we can have fewer cheap jibes.

Cllr S H Souster

Rye