Elderly could miss Rye Torch celebration

ELDERLY and disabled people could miss out on the Olympic Torch coming through Rye.

And others will be unable to get to hospital appointments due to inflexibility of road closures.

That was the claim being made by Rye Community Transport Co-ordinator Pat Hughes this week, who says the charity will have to cancel bus runs when the torch arrives on the morning of Wednesday July 18.

Road closures will be in place in Rye from 9am – 11.30am.

Ms Hughes says there has been a lack of local consultation by event planners at Rother District Council.

Speaking at Monday’s Public Services Committee, she said: “Hospital patients and disabled people using the ARRCC service could be affected. Of course this a big event but life does go on.

“All the emphasis for this event seems to placed on school children but it is not just for children. There are a number of older and disabled people who would very much like to see it but won’t get the opportunity because they are physically unable to get up to the High Street.

“We feel that with judicial marshalling it would be possible to run an earlier bus service up to the High Street.

“The big business concerns and sponsors of this circus have absolutely no interest in what happens at a local level. It is a sad indictment on the whole event.”

Ms Hughes said: “We contacted Charles Sharrod, head of emergency planning at Rother Council, who has been involved with this, asking when a multi-agency meeting was going to take place to sort out problems. This was on June 26 and we have had no reply. We feel there should have been discussions.

“He did say that he was sure the benefits to the town’s commercial interests would more than make up for any inconvenience – well I don’t agree.”

Public Services chairman Cllr Mary Smith said: “Olympic Torch Day is looking like a bit of a nightmare. I feel sorry for older people who may miss out. Why are they being so inflexible?”

Cllr Gemma Blumire said: “This is a once in a life-time thing. We have to make allowances for a few hours.

Colonel Anthony Kimber, from Rye’s REACT emergency response group, said: “They are planning to park the Torch convoy vehicles at the Landgate. This convoy is massive so how it will be able to park there I really don’t know.”

The committee voted to to make representations to Rother Council in a bid to resolve the issues.