Is Rother letting Rye go to ruin?

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THERE is mounting anger over the neglected state of Rye.

An ever expanding catalogue of concern includes boarded up and derelict homes, crumbling pavements, scruffy sites along Winchelsea Road and an untidy and messy station area.

Now Rye Rother Councillor Sam Souster is accusing the district council of letting Rye go to ruin while pumping thousands of pounds into schemes in Bexhill.

He said: “Visitors who have come to Rye over the years remark on how badly the town has deteriorated.”

Cllr Mary Smith said: “I went to Chichester recently and coming back to Rye it looked dreadful.”

Rye Mayor John Breeds has said he is “horrified” by the state of Rye.

Concerns over the state of the town came to a head at the recent Rye Annual Town Meeting where the issue dominated public question time.

In an angry letter to Rother’s Director of Services Anthony Leonard, Cllr Souster said: “By far the most vocal issue raised at the meeting was the deplorable state of the town, with so many important, prominent and historic sites and buildings being neglected for years with little prospect of of development or even improvement.

“Questions and statements at the meeting reflected the common view that Rother Council was at best impotent and at worst indifferent to Rye.

“This was thrown into sharp focus when compare to the many and hugely expensive improvements taking place in Bexhill.

“It was strongly felt that as an ancient and historic town, economically dependent on tourism, the same concern should be shown as is exhibited in Bexhill and improvements made to the many eyesores in Rye.”

Buildings and sites causing concern include the empty Augustinian Friary on Conduit Hill, the empty Grist Mill warehouse at New Winchelsea Road, which is now propped up by a beam to prevent it from falling over, and the row of boarded up cottages on Fishmarket Road – one of the main entrances to the town.

Cllr Souster said. Of Fishmarket Road: “I have a file on this site going back 15 yers.

“The dereliction, general deterioration to fabric, missing boards to doors and windows, the appalling appearance, rodent infestation and undesirables entering these properties is what greets people entering the town from the east.

“Furthermore, the site is in close proximity to Rye Salts, where many events are held, and there is a guest house close by.

“With the Grist Mill and Total Garage site, we now have the prospect of those approaching from the west being greeted by eyesores.

“As services are now being shared with neighbouring authorities perhaos advice can be sought from Hastings Borough Council which has successfully used Section 251 orders to improve the town on a grand scale.

“Residents are angry – they have been unhappy with Rother’s performance for some considerable time, but this is exacerbated by the spending on Bexhill’s improvements and the fact that Rye’s slide into dereliction appears to be of little concern to Rother Council.

“These serious concerns cannot be ignored and must be addressed, not with promises, but perhaps by the scrutiny committee, so then councillors will be made aware of the predicament of this ancient and historic town.”

Now Rye MP Amber Rudd has got involved and yesterday (Thursday) chaired a meeting to discuss the future of the Total garage site at Winchelsea Road.

There is though some good news on the horizon though with plans for new homes and retail units on the Central Garage site, which has stood empty and derelict in the centre of Rye for more than a decade.

Paul King, from Rye bay Marketing Group, is also pushing the Environment Agency to keep a service station on the site or come up with a proposal that meets with the approval of local people.

RYE residents have also been having their say about the state of the town,

Nick Taylor commented: “The station area is in a terrible state. There is litter all round the bus shelters. It looks awful.

Julia Farrington, of New Winchelsea Road, raised concerns over a scruffy site which borders the entrance of Rye Harbour Road and Winchelsea Road. 

She said: “It is a disgrace and rapidly turning into a rubbish dump for flytippers and a deposit for beer cans and other portable detritus thrown by passers by.

“It must be a health hazard and it is a matter of time before it attracts rats. It is clearly an eyesore for the residents of Rye, visitors and tourists alike.

Gavin McGarvey, from Ferry Road, said: “It is time we stood up as a town and got our rights back.”