Embarrassed by planning turnout

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I FULLY support the comments made by John Howlett in his letter to the Rye Observer (December 3).

I was also present at the Rye Town Council’s planning committee meeting when the Tesco planning application was considered.

I do not sit on the planning committee, but I have to say I was frankly embarrassed by seeing so few of the planning committee present (six out of nine) and few members of the public in the gallery on such an important matter on the agenda.

The debate was not of the high standard one would expect from a town council, and showed little regard to the primary issue of the siting of the supermarket with its access so close to a railway crossing and busy road where there was a fire station, the doctor’s surgery and an old people’s home, points I was able to make from the gallery.

As reported the final vote showed three for the application while the remainder unable to make a decision and abstained.

It will be seen by the public that only three out of 16 councillors formally expressed their approval for the application, albeit with certain conditions.

It is therefore commendable that Richard Farhall, the town clerk, has recognised the obvious flaw in the planning procedure, and has decided to invite the council to consider changing its planning procedure.

He has said that any future planning application of a contentious nature (and Sainsbury’s will be next) should be only considered at a Special Town Council meeting.

Such a change in policy would enable sufficient time to be given to organise and publicise such a meeting.

This would engage all members directly, and the public at large would see that serious consideration was being given to a contentious issue.

It is also been suggested that a planning officer from Rother should be invited to attend such meeting to give any guidance requested.

Many will not need to be reminded that the Campaign for a Democratic Rye has been pushing for a long time both publicly, and at meetings in council, for a change in Rye’s planning procedures on these lines.

It gives me optimism for the future that the town council may be starting to listen to the CDR which has so frequently shown a more progressive way forward for better governance in Rye.

Cllr Granville Bantick

Rye Town Council