Meet the Rye by-election hopefuls bidding to replace Izod

John Izod died on April 7
John Izod died on April 7

The four candidates to replace the late John Izod on Rye council have set out their stalls stating why you should vote for them on Thursday (July 28).

Gerard Reilly, Matt Follett, Marie Breeds and Sam Barnes are vying to be the newest member of Rye Town Council.

Gerard Reilly

Gerard Reilly

The by-election comes after the death of community stalwart Mr Izod in May.

Voters can make their choice at Badgers Gate, on Udimore Road, or at Rye Community Centre from 7am to 10pm.

Below is a brief profile and manifesto from each candidate explaining their priorities and why they should be elected.


Matt Follett

Matt Follett

Former civil servant and teacher Gerard Reilly believes his background and knowledge of Rye would make him a valuable town councillor.

Mr Reilly has lived and worked in the Rye area since 1989 and his children have grown up here.

The Udimore Road resident worked as a local government officer and served as a school governor for many years, as well as a teacher.

Mr Reilly said his knowledge and skills gained from this experience, plus his social and interpersonal abilities and innate desire to help other, makes him an ideal candidate.

Marie Breeds

Marie Breeds

Since his retirement, the Labour Party candidate wants to get more involved in the town’s issues and contribute positively to the council’s concerns, as he believes it is his duty to help the community.

Also Mr Reilly’s work for Rye News has ‘rekindled’ his interest in local council affairs.

“I will do my best to help the people I hope to represent. I believe I can contribute positively to the concerns of the council,” he said.


Sam Barnes

Sam Barnes

Independent nominee Matt Follett is pledging to make Rye’s voice heard and fight for its residents’ concerns especially with Rother District Council.

Mr Follett, of Fair Meadow, has previously been elected to local government twice and has the backing of Tilling Green Community Centre’s chairman and Rye former councillor Heidi Foster.

The criminology lecturer at Brighton university believes he can handle the difficult issues and wants to bring people of all ages together.

“I’m not convinced that Rother District Council is always listening to the residents of Rye. It often looks like residents of Bexhill get a better deal than the residents of Rye,” he said.

Mr Follett’s council experience saw him sit on the planning, scrutiny and transport committees which he claims will be useful if he is elected.

His favourite activities are walking, going to the Rye Kino, and spending time with his partner, Tracy, who runs the Citizens Advice Bureau in Hastings, and his stepchildren.


Having been brought up in Rye, Marie Breeds believes she has its interests at heart and wants to help the town prosper.

The independent candidate went to primary and secondary school in Rye, living in the town until she married but has now returned and wants get stuck in with the council.

“This town has the potential to offer all of us so much more. If elected, I would work hard to help improve the future of Rye,” she said.

The Corn Exchange resident had a varied working life, having worked in housing, the NHS, the hospitality industry and she also ran her own business before retiring.

Mrs Breeds wants to keep Rye heritage, support young adults with work and housing, run the town for its residents’ benefit and make Ryers feel proud to live here.


By far the youngest candidate, Sam Barnes wants to bring greater representation of the town’s youth to the council.

The 23-year-old works at Rye Golf Club, has lived in the town since early childhood but now with his partner Natalie on Cinque Ports Street, and studied at Rye College.

Mr Barnes supports giving more powers to the town council and the expansion of the Rye town steward scheme.

“I believe that Rye Town Council would benefit from the input of a younger member of the community in order to make it a more representative body of the people it seeks to serve,” he said.

Mr Barnes believes greater devolution would allow the council to take control of more aspects of the town, such as the ‘rapidly deteriorating’ Landgate Arch.

He thinks the town steward has brought a significant improvement to the town and supports events to bring more tourism and trade to Rye.

Anyone at this year’s mayor making ceremony at Tilling Green Community Centre would have seen Mr Barnes as he played drums for the band Slap Bang who performed at the event.

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