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  • Writer's pictureJane Brook

February Newsletter 2024

Gearing-up for our next meeting on 13th March...

New member welcome:

It’s only two weeks to our 13th March Spring event at MULTI-AWARD WINNING Waterworks Brewery & Taproom in Playden. It’s going to be an excellent evening with music from Logan Wilson and pizza from Wild Flame Pizza.

Our focus is all things sustainable🌱– we’ll have a talk from David Roder at the Taproom about the microbrewery, and from Rother District Council’s Climate Officer – Lucie Bolton who heads up their newly adopted Climate Strategy. Here's your ticket link! We can all raise a glass to David on yet another award 👏 ... Here he is in action, captured by Rye's most intrepid photographer KT Bruce! Full story here in Rye News.

Your Rye Round-up

It’s been a month of meetings! Lots of time spent moving some important projects forward, some of which we still can’t update you on just yet 🤐 . One area where we feel we really are making progress is encouraging greater collaboration in our town.

For too long we’ve had too many individuals, groups and networks working in silos and quite often doubling up effort unnecessarily. With the emphasis that the Chamber puts on communication we feel we are breaking down some of these barriers and making sure that where plans are made, they are done so with the greatest of efficiencies and with the necessary input from all major stakeholders. Here are the results of the meetings we have had on behalf of our members this month....


Meeting with Rother District Council

We had a very productive meeting with the Regeneration Team from Rother District Council to gain a clearer understanding of the funding opportunities that are currently open for application. Here’s your quick summary:

The Shared Prosperity Fund also integrates the Rural England Prosperity Fund and from this there are a number of grants available either for Communities, or Businesses.

Communities can apply for:

  • Rural Community Infrastructure Grant – This is for capital projects only and has £100K left in the pot. Grants of up to £20K available, you must have at least 20% of your funding already in place. 

Businesses can apply for:

  • Rother & Wealden Rural Business Grant Fund – this is for match funded grants of between £2k and £50K which promote diversification and expansion of tourism businesses. This is open for application until the end of 2024.

If you want to find out more on the Rural Business Grant Fund, we are holding a special event on the 20th March. Cllr Christine Baylis and Katharine Beer, Regeneration Officer for RDC, will give a short presentation on how the scheme works and how to apply and will answer any questions.  Get your tickets here

  • We also know there will be grant funding available to assist businesses with their Carbon Reduction journeys and this will be launched in April. We’re working closely with RDC on this and will keep you updated. Remember, our next free sustainability meet-up- People Planet Pint🍺 event will be held at the Queens Head on the 7th March get your tickets here

Meeting with Sally Ann Hart

We met with our MP Sally Ann Hart to discuss the latest business challenges in town. We discussed holding forum with a business minister and will keep you updated on this. In the meantime Sally-Ann has circulated a brief online survey for businesses in Rye & Hastings to complete. The survey aims to gather valuable insights about the current business climate and the challenges we are all facing. The responses will be fed back to The Secretary of State for Business and Trade and will help inform local and national policy in this vital election year. We urge you to complete the survey which takes less than 5 minutes, click on this link

Meeting With RTC

We met with Rye Town Council for the first of what we intend to be a monthly fixture. We recognise the need to work closely with RTC to ensure the views of the business community are always considered when decisions about the town are being made.  The meeting was focused on the current Tourism Strategy for the town and problems we see that it presents – namely the introduction of a new town map, when there are already two in existence. 

On the advice of the town clerk we have written formally to the town council to make some suggestions.

We additionally discussed:

  • Public Loos

  • Bins

  • Tourism Signage in the town

All of these issues are hampered by lack of budget but the Chamber will continue to lobby and look for ways that the town can fund necessary changes and improvements that directly impact the experience of visitors to our town. 

Meeting with RHC

We met with Rye Heritage Centre in a further effort to ensure that town council, chamber and our tourism attractions are all informed and being heard. We discussed the town council’s tourism strategy and advised the Heritage Centre on the suggestions we have made to RTC. We will await their response.  We also discussed funding opportunities for RHC and as a chamber pledged our support for any grant applications they may make. 

Promoting Hospitality 🔥

AND if that wasn't enough meetings, Chamber Hospitality Champion Martin Blincow from The Mermaid Inn has been on fire with his endeavours to foster relationships with training providers and partners. Here's his bumper update:


  1. We have 3 Chefs from Hastings College on the L3 Course working Part Time

  2. We have 3 students from Hastings College on a one day a week work placement as part of their Qualification

  3. We have 2 people from Little Gate Farm employed on the staff.  One is now working independently the other has a Job Coach

  4. We have hosted 2 Visits by Hastings College Students

  5. We have hosted a visit by Bexhill College Students

  6. We have hosted a visit by New Horizons

  7. We have hosted a visit by The Workplace College

  8. We are working with Bexhill College to develop a Course aimed to develop the management skills of Middle Managers

  9. Visiting Montreuil Sur Mer in April to discuss a potential partnership with a Hotel / Restaurant to widen the experience of staff.

If are a hospitality business and would like to participate in any of the above initiatives, please contact Martin at


Rother District Council Budget

Rother District Council has agreed a budget for 24/25. More than £15m has been allocated for the provision of services to Rother Residents.  Council Tax will increase by 2.99%. Full budget report can be read here:


Rother Small Business Training

Two fully funded business training programmes have been launched in partnership with Rother District Council. These offer an amazing support for small businesses – they are completely free and it’s easy to apply.

  • Ready To Grow - is for small and early-stage businesses under 3 years old and offers a series of workshops and two 1:1 sessions with a business advisor.

  • Big Ambitions – is for businesses looking to grow and employ another team member within the next year. It offers up to 18 hours of 1:1 support with business advisors.

To apply head to the East Sussex Business Hub

Three Quick Things You Can Do Right Now to Make a Difference to Your Business & Community:

  1. If you’re not already signed up to Rother Business Alerts, it’s a really easy way to keep up to speed with funding news and initiatives - you can sign up here.

  2. If you’re in support of getting Ashford International Eurostar services to Kent reinstated and running again – then click here to sign the petition.  

  3. UK hospitality and the Professional Association of Self Caterers are calling on the Government to reduce VAT to 10% for the hospitality and tourism industry – sign the petition here to get this debate heard in Parliament


2024 marks 30 years of the Let’s Do Business Group and their 1066 business awards are now open for entries.


Dates for Your Diary

  • The Town Meeting – 6th March at Rye Community Centre – 6pm. Your chance to hear first-hand what is going on in the town and have your say

  • A public consultation is being held on Thursday 7th March 3-7pm at the River Haven Hotel on the proposals for the Winchelsea Road development

  • Eastbourne Chamber in partnership with ACES, the Alliances of Chambers in East Sussex and the Friends of Sussex Hospices are holding a Mega March Hospice Quiz on 6th March at Uckfield Civic Centre.  Teams of up to 6 are welcome. £20 per person including a hot meal, and a pay bar. Book here.

  • Our next free sustainability meet-up, People Planet Pint event will be held at the Queens Head on the 7th March get your tickets here

  • It’s only two weeks to our 13th March Spring Event at the Waterworks Brewery &Taproom. Don't miss it!

  • We will soon be announcing the first 🦀 CRAB – Carbon Reduction Action Plan in the Box that talked about in last month’s newsletter. We’ve already had an enthusiastic response from members who are keen to sign up. Watch this space!

  • We’re holding our annual community litter pick on Sunday 25th March as part of GB Spring Clean. Join us 10-11am as we challenge ourselves to fill ten bags of rubbish and tidy up our town! Sign up here and meet us at The Lookout!

  • Rye Town Council meeting - 25th March at Rye Town Hall. Council meetings are always open to the public and you have the opportunity make your views heard. 


Useful Downloads

Small Business Britain in partnership with TSB has launched How to Start and Restart – a new report which surveyed small businesses on their experience starting up and as they grow. The report found signs of a more positive outlook for 2024 set against immediate economic concerns and a need to adapt to future trends and risks. You can download it here.


Seen our latest spotlight feature on Lankelma? Read it here. Watch the Instagram Reel here. Want us to do a Spotlight feature on your business? Contact us today! 01797 222857.



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