THE future of the Total garage site in Winchelsea Road was discussed at a packed public meeting in Rye last week.
MP Amber Rudd called and chaired the meeting, at Rye Town Hall, after being made aware of local concerns by Paul King of Rye Bay Marketing Group. More than 100 residents attended.
The meeting was also attended by Rye Rother councillors Lord Ampthill and Sam Souster and Rye county councillor Keith Glazier.
“Several residents raised their concerns,” said Amber, “so I called a public meeting with the Environment Agency to establish what the position is, what residents would like to see, and what the next steps are.”
The Environment Agency explained how Total had given notice and discussions were ongoing regarding responsibility for the contaminated site.
They highlighted that it would be difficult but not impossible for a new petrol station to locate there.
Amber said: “Above all they reiterated their commitment to the town and reassured the meeting that as landlords of the site they would work closely with the Town Council and community leaders before making any decision regarding the site.
Andrew Pearce, Kent and South London Area Manager, Environment Agency said: “Last Thursday’s meeting was a great opportunity for us to discuss the future use of our land in Rye with residents and to explain our role in managing the Winchelsea Road site.
“We look forward to working with Rye Town Council, local residents and business owners to develop a neighbourhood plan for the town that meets the needs of people and the environment.”
Amber Rudd reassured residents that she would stay in close touch with the progress of the EA on the site and would ensure that the town’s interests were always at the front of any decision regarding the site.
She agreed that a new petrol site was needed in the town and that this and other sites should be considered. Finally she volunteered to host a follow up meeting in six months time to give an update and consider progress.
Paul King said: “The meeting went very well, the Environment Agency were extremely positive and providing we put in place a facility to empower open and transparent engagement then as a town we could do well. “What came across was a desire to engage with the People of Rye at all levels not just with the Town council and Rother behind closed doors. Amber Rudd clearly understands the urgency of the matter, we have already had small traffic jams at Skinners Garage.
“I remain unaware of any cohesive vision or strategy supported by action in regard to any redevelopment issues.
“If the Town Council lack the resources then perhaps they will accept help from within the community. We should also remember that our current town councillors did not create this situation, they are in the main highly motivated unpaid locals doing their best with limited resources who deserve our support.”