It does appear we shall not have a Community Warden for Rye.
I have explored all avenues, including investigating the role of a Community Warden in the villages of Kent where they do some very good work in their communities. Regrettably, it is thought by Rye Town Council not to be a priority in Rye.
In speaking to Chief Inspector Warren Franklin, the Sussex Police Commander, he tells me that his Force will not go out every day and deal with parking regulation as their current function is to deliver community safety, and protect and deal with vulnerable people and victims of crime which are far more of an issue than parking.
I am informed by the Area Manager for the Mid/West Kent Community Warden Service that they provide a valuable presence in the community.
Their role is multi-functional involving the Police, Kent Fire and Rescue and Age UK. They work with other agencies to combat low level crime and anti-social behaviour.
They also attend or run surgeries locally. They are accredited by Kent police, and whilst they have limited powers they are able to ask for a name and address in regard to anti-social behaviour and to control traffic.
The Community Wardens are kitted out with hi-vis jackets and trousers, fleece coat, boots, mobile phones and torches.
I am informed that the setting up cost including wages etc is estimated at approximately £26,000, but such a person having such a role in Rye would not necessarily need to be so well equipped, or need to work the hours the Kent wardens work.
However, it is doubtful whether an even lesser sum could possibly be found by Rye Town Council now the Council’s available reserves are to be utilized to pay for a Town Steward, however much it is desirable to improve the appearance of the town.
It was always going to be a question of priorities. We shall have to see what transpires after the May elections, when a new approach to traffic management is to be further investigated by the local authorities.
I see that Rother’s Cabinet is recommending to the Council that the MediumTerm Financial strategy for 2015/16 to 2019/20 be approved and adopted.
It does not make very good reading, although it says that the strategy would be modified if the financial situation of the Council changed over the next five years.
Decreasing revenue from various sources means that £2.8m of savings will be required over the next five years.
The position for 2015/16 and 2016/17 relies on achieving savings from operational budgets (not employees) of £800.000, and additional income being received of £408,000. It is said that any shortfall will be met from earmarked reserves.
From April 2014, the Council had £9.2m of Reserves; this was expected to reduce by a further £5.8m by 2019/20 if the savings required were not delivered. If Council Tax was increased by 1.9% (below the referendum rate) then an additional £108,000 of income would be achieved on the 2015/16 tax base.
It is not rocket science to see Rother District Council has a very big problem if it does not wish to keep dipping into reserves.
This will undoubtedly be reflected in more cuts in services unless there is more money coming from central Government support which I suspect is unlikely.
I am informed Sussex Police are required to save £52m in the next four years, and may have to consider raising the precept. All this highlights the challenges Rother District Council have to face. It would have been less of a challenge I feel if some of the big capital projects in Bexhill had been postponed by Rother, and less money squandered propping up the de la Warr Pavilion. Surely, is it is once again a question of priorities?
Long range weather forecasters are predicting one of the coldest winters on record. It is thought that this should not cause East Sussex County Council too many problems as the Highways team has taken delivery of 18 new gritter 4 X 4 vehicles.
It is reported by Roger Williams, head of Highways at ESCC, that they are bigger, and can hold even more salt. He says they are more prepared for winter, and will be more efficient, and be able to stay out on the roads longer if required.
On a more local level Rye Town Council’s “Adverse Weather Action Group” has some councillors standing by to do a bit of snow clearance if required.
It is hoped this small group will encourage others to help out, particularly where it is known there are areas vulnerable to elderly people and those having mobility problems.
The Town Clerk would like to hear of any able bodied person willing to volunteer.