The Rye View with Granville Bantick

Looking to the Future

After the fireworks come the resolutions. Have you made your New Year resolution? The New Year is that time in our lives when we think about fresh horizons

and greener pastures. At the same time we cannot but look over our shoulder at the year past and reflect. Much still has to be done in Rye. The pot holes are still there, the Central Garage site still remains as it has done for many years untouched as do the derelict cottages in Fishmarket Road, the Total garage site remains to be redeveloped, the allotments saga continues without resolution, still no new supermarket, and traffic congestion seems never to get resolved.

We need a new impetus. But that easier to say when we are in the middle of the worst financial climate for decades to see how much will change in 2013. Councils at all levels are in a financial straitjacket. Rother District

Council understandably wants to devolve some of its services to town and parish council level, but it is difficult to see how this might be achieved for whatever services are taken on funding will still be required, and finding other sources of income is not all that easy.

Raising the precept might be an option, but under new rules which come into force in the new financial year such action will require a referendum and even then the council will be restricted to how much it would be allowed to raise due to the replacement of council tax benefit with council tax discounts which means the council tax base will be smaller by some 5-10% on average due to the cost being spread over fewer households.

But looking to the future I am filled with optimism on a different front. The Rye Town Council’s Neighbourhood Plan on which I wrote at some length in my column in December must surely be the way forward. It is expected to give the citizens of Rye a stronger voice when deciding on where houses are to be built, how the local environment

can be made better, how traffic in the town can be better managed, and how the local economy might be improved. It will need people with some expertise in a particular topic to come forward to join the team which will assist in putting the Plan together. The Rye Town Council will welcome anybody to give of their time to the project. Let it be that person’s new resolution as we look to the future!

On a final note some prominence was given at a recent Town Council meeting that some residents have questioned the relevance of the Town Council. Putting aside the ceremonial function, Rye Town Council provides a skate board park, a field for the Rugby Club, a Heritage Centre which provides information and attracts tourists, grit bins,

benches and finger posts, helps with residents’ problems, has a meeting place at the Town Hall and gives grants to local voluntary/community groups and many jobs. This is aside to the work done by the Council’s Planning committee when considering what planning applications should be put forward to Rother for approval or rejection, a matter

of great importance to Rye. Perhaps I should add the wonderful work by the council to organise a snow clearance team consisting of councillors and others who have volunteered their services to keep the pavements in vulnerable places safe for pedestrians.

May I wish everyone a happy New Year