Anger as Rother hike Rye’s special charges

ROTHER Council is planning to increase Rye’s ‘Special Expenses’ charge by a hefty 34 percent while at the same time cutting services.

The Special Expense is charged to Rye tax payers over and above the normal council tax payments and has been the subject of controversy for many years.

Special Expenses are to cover maintenance of public open spaces in Rye.

The Town Council has been told that Rother plans to increase the charge by 34 percent from April 1.

Rother’s head of finance has said the principal reason for the hike was an increase in the grounds maintenance contractor’s cost.

Yet back in October Rother actually withdrew maintenance of the planted areas around the Town Hall and the grassed area adjacent to the Ypres Tower.

Angry Rye councillors pointed out that the grounds maintenance charge for Bexhill’s Special Expense had actually fallen and asked if Rye was having to foot the bill for the contractor’s travel costs from Bexhill.

Councillors have said there is some confusion as to what Rother is actually charging the town in terms of special expenses.

Cllr Mary Smith said: ““The amount of money our tax payers are paying on top of council tax is astonishing.

“It is very hard to get information and details from Rother Council about what Rye residents are actually paying for.

“For example, they cite charges for maintaining buildings on Rye’s allotment when there are no buildings.

“Rother must have the figures somewhere.”

There is also concern that areas of Rye could end up looking shabby if Rother cuts back on its grounds maintenance.

Deputy Mayor Cllr Bernardine Fiddimore said: “We don’t want to have areas of Rye which are no longer planted and end up looking derelict.”

Councillors voted to register their ‘grave concern’ to Rother District Council and asked Rye Rother councillor Lord Ampthill to seek a reduction in the Special Expense.