WE APPLAUD the courage and honesty of Bexhill Councillors, Deirdre Williams and Paul Lendon, in disassociating themselves from ‘dictatorship’ within the Rother District Council.
Rye has been for some time a victim of this ‘more dictatorship than a democracy’, whether over our allotments and toilets, or through the procedures of their planning committee.
The local government ‘cabinet’ system (introduced so unwisely by the Blair government) only serves to accentuate the power of the majority party if they choose not only to ignore, but silence contrary voices.
The Campaign for a Democratic Rye (and a Democratic Rother) has long contested the secrecy and arrogant lack of democratic procedure in Bexhill, even in the surely straightforward business of their planning committee.
If you wish to plead for or against a planning decision, you may only do so in writing – and judging by the frantic scrambling through the papers at their meetings, some of the councillors have clearly not read them.
Those in the public gallery are not even allowed to approach their own representatives during the coffee break (by contrast, you are encouraged to attend and speak at planning applications to the East Sussex County Council in Lewes).
Nor are these deficiencies mere recent history. The then local MP for Bexhill and Battle, Charles Wardle, attacked several aspects of inept and corrupt governance within the Rother District Council in a speech to the House of Commons, from which I am not permitted to quote, but to which I would refer you (Hansard, 09-05-2001).
We can only hope that our current MP for Hastings and Rye, Amber Rudd, will bring some pressure to bear on those of her own party who so blatantly flaunt the simple principles and courtesies of democratic local government.
Campaign for a Democratic Rye