Rother accused of taking soft option in store wars

Cllr Sam Souster ENGSUS00120131029134925
Cllr Sam Souster ENGSUS00120131029134925

ROTHER Council has been slammed by one of its Rye members for failing to properly explore all the options relating to the ongoing supermarket debacle.

Cllr Sam Souster spoke out after Monday’s Cabinet meeting at Bexhill refused to consider an option he had put forward which he believes could end the deadlock preventing Rye from getting a new supermarket.

This week he accused Rother of taking the easy option of writing to the Government to ask them to intervene.

Addressing Monday’s Rye Town Council meeting he said: “I spent a lot of time preparing a paper for this and they were not even prepared to discuss it

“This was not democracy. Rother Council has a lot to answer for.

Do they really believe the Government would be willing to lock horns with two big national supermarkets?

“Our MP has been involved in this for an awfully long time and we are still in the same position.

“It was rubber-stamped without any discussion. It had clearly been discussed by Cabinet behind closed doors before the meeting and a decision made.

“This is not democracy. I am disgusted by the system.”

Cllr Souster’s solution is for Rother to issue a compulsory purchase order against both Tesco and Sainsbury which would allow the lower school site to potentially be returned to Rye College to use as land for its expanding academies.

He says the Freda Gardham site could then provide land for a new supermarket in Rye.

He said: “It is clear to most people in Rye that the Freda Gardham site on new road is better suited for a supemarket.

“It is on a straight road and not right on top of a railway crossing and one-way system like the Ferry Road site.

“It has always been stated that the Freda Gradham site would be problematical because it is on the flood plain, but planning applications have been approved by the Environmental Agency providing the ground floor is used for garage or utility purposes and not living or sleeping accommodation.

A good example of a supermarket that would be acceptable on this site is Tesco off Queensway, Hastings. This could be seen as a blot on the landscape but this may be a price worth paying and would provide the jobs we desperately need.

“Since the land was disposed of as surplus to requirements Rye College has become an Academy Trust.

The Trust has already provided a Studio School for the Performing Arts and has planned in the near future a Studio School for Travel, Leisure and Sport.

“Rye Academy Trust should be allowed to compete for the acquisition of the site which would provide education from nursery, primary and secondary and more on one site.”

Rye’s other Rother councillor Lord Amptill said: “We could potentially be in the lurch for years with this.”