Planning and Townscape Committee Meeting
At a meeting held on 28 October, Rye Town Council decided that it could no longer delay taking action to address the substantial public subsidy required to support the Heritage Centre, home of the Town Model Sound & Light Show, a visitor information service, audio tours and Old Pier Amusement Machines.
Since the loss of visitor information funding from Rother District Council 10 years ago, the Town Council has struggled to run the Centre without placing an excessive burden on Rye Council Tax payers.
Despite reducing expenditure, re-merchandising and changing the retail offer in order to support local producers, the Centre has continued to be impacted adversely by factors outside of its control. Visitor numbers are affected not only by the weather but also postponed Brexit deadlines, which have resulted in a significant number of overseas students group Model booking cancellations this year. Additionally, the £12,500 a year business rates payable on the premises has not been helpful.
The level of subsidy required has continued to rise. Over the last 3 years it has averaged £22,000pa and, without urgent action, is forecast to reach a similar figure this year.
At the Council meeting, members of the public voiced their concerns about the possibility of visitors and residents no longer having access to the Town Model, a much-loved visitor attraction for some 40 years, as well as the impact of a closure of the Centre on neighbouring businesses.
Those present were advised that the Council had explored alternative locations for the Model and different governance structures for the Centre, without success. The need to subsidise the Centre at £22,000pa had depleted the Council’s reserves, which resulted in the suspension of grant giving to community organisations, an asset disposal and two vacant posts being left unfilled.
Members of the public were assured that their comments would be considered before the Town Council made a final decision on the future of the Centre and were advised that the Council’s priority is to ensure the continued provision of a face-to-face visitor information service in the town.
After careful consideration, the Council reluctantly concluded that, to protect the interests of local Council Tax payers and the Council’s other services, as from April 2020 the visitor information service should be relocated to the Town Hall, the Centre should be let and the Town Model should, if necessary, be placed into storage.
However, should any members of the community express a desire to work up a proposal to keep the Model at the Centre, the Council would be happy to provide support and guidance. Because a local charity has expressed interest in renting the Centre for another purpose, any such proposal would need to be agreed with the Council no later than 31 December.
Additionally, the Council welcomes any suggestions for alternative locations for the Model, probably as a static exhibit.
Richard Farhall (email@example.com)
Rye Town Clerk
MOTORISTS in East Sussex are being urged to be ‘deer aware’ to avoid colliding with the creatures on rural roads.
Every year there are an estimated 74,000 deer-related traffic collisions in the UK, with the risk of encountering the animals on the road increasing during the mating season in October and November. People should take particular care in areas where there are deer warning signs or heavily wooded roads, at night and around dawn and dusk, when deer are most likely to venture out.
– People are advised to use full-beam headlights at night if no other cars are around, as they will reflect the deer’s eyes, but dip their headlights when they see a deer to avoid startling it.
– Deer often travel in groups so if drivers see one crossing the road they should slow down and drive with caution as others may follow.
– Anyone who hits a deer is advised to stay calm, park in a safe place with hazard lights on and call the police on 101, or 999 if someone is injured or the deer is in the road.
– People should not approach or try to comfort an injured deer, as it may make the animal more distressed or cause it to run back into the road.
More information is available online at www.deeraware.com
Thanks to all those who came along to the Annual Town Meeting on Wednesday 6th March at Rye Community Centre. Below are the reports available on the night, in addition to the Mayor’s Overview of the Year from Cllr Michael Boyd.
REACT Update 2019 (Rye Emergency Action Community Team)
For more information and to download an information pack – click here.