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  • Writer's pictureElise Garner

February Newsletter | Rye Chamber

Updated: Mar 4, 2023

Welcome to our new members!

It’s been a good start to the year – word is spreading and we’ve had five new members sign up in the last month. It’s important to us to grow our ranks, not just in number but also in terms of the business sector so that we are truly representative of the economy of the area. We’re very pleased to extend a warm welcome to the following:

Each month we profile a longstanding member and a new member on our blog so that we can all get to know each other better, take a look …


Here's your digest of Chamber news for the last month, at-a-glance:

  • Following the news that Hastings Borough Council was proposing to withdraw its share of funding to 1066 Country Marketing we updated members and advised them of the public consultation being held in advance of the vote by HBC on the 15th of February.

  • Following the vote by HBC to withdraw its funding from the 1066 partnership, we pitched the story to BBC South East and BBC Radio Sussex and gave interviews to both expressing our concern on behalf of members in Rother who this decision and the implications for the wider visitor economy will impact.

  • Following the news that Rye's Tourist Information Point is to close,we met with the Town Clerk to discuss their proposed tourism strategy that will include the provision of additional signage around the town. We also discussed potential ideas for working with the town’s businesses to help support the visitor economy once this resource has gone.

  • The Chamber continued discussions with both East Sussex College and Bexhill 6th Form College to develop a pathway that will help students progress from education to employment and that will, in turn, help hospitality businesses recruit the staff they need. We asked members to get in touch with their recruitment needs so that we can progress this further.

  • We advised that SELEP is recruiting to the board of TES and appealed to our membership to apply.

  • We met with Rye News to discuss the potential for working together on sustainability initiatives for the town.

  • Following the ongoing issues some of our members have experienced with litter wardens in the town, Rother District Council have issued the following guidance on business waste:


Hastings Borough Council withdraws tourism funding from 1066 Country

Marketing partnership

The view from Vice Chair Sarah Broadbent who is the Rye representative of 1066 Country Marketing.

Businesses throughout the region are angered by the decision from Hastings Borough Council to withdraw its share of funding from the 1066 Country Marketing partnership. Justified as a money-saving measure, the move is instead widely regarded as a political one.

1066 is our region’s destination marketing organisation. It is the longest-standing tourism partnership of its kind in the UK. In the last 25 years, it has done exceptional work to put the historic region of 1066 on the tourism map. It is a not-for-profit partnership. Historically the biggest contributors to the budget have been the three councils covered by the 1066 region: Hastings, Rother and Wealden. The rest of the marketing budget is funded privately through the subscriptions of member businesses. Managed by a voluntary Executive Board which includes representatives from each area, the work of the partnership is down to a team of just 3 part-time staff who are seconded from Hastings Council. They have always done an incredible job in keeping the 1066 brand in the media across print, digital and broadcast campaigns punching well above their weight. The website performs alongside the most successful tourism destinations in the UK.

This is a time when tourism needs all the support it can get. The tourism industry white-knuckled its way through the pandemic and is now girded to cope with the recession. At a time when the cost of living is impacting disposable income, we need to be sure that our region is maximising its share of voice in terms of marketing to attract visitors in their numbers.

Of course, we understand that Hastings Borough Council has to balance the books and right now it faces huge financial pressure. But this is the wrong decision at the wrong time. To withdraw marketing support for its most important industry is just foolhardy. Hastings employs over 7000 people in tourism and the visitor economy is worth over £385m to the town – why risk damaging that?

Of the £50K HBC is saving this year by withdrawing from 1066 they are investing just £15K back into marketing Hastings as a destination yet claim this will ‘re-imagine’ the town with a ‘new approach’. Stretched that thin a great deal of imagination is going to be required…

There is no question that the region will suffer as a consequence of compromising the marketing partnership and when visitor numbers drop, that’s when jobs are lost and small businesses suffer. This decision doesn’t just affect Hastings it will ripple out throughout the 1066 region, because visitors don’t just visit Hastings – they visit Rye, Camber, Battle, Bexhill, Pevensey and so on – they spend money throughout the region. The visitor economy is one of the main economic drivers of this part of the country and this decision from Hastings is a direct threat to that.

The power of 1066 lies in its partnership. Together the region is stronger and has a greater share of voice in marketing campaigns. The region has a shared history. It makes sense to market the region as a whole, rather than double up on efforts and cost and operate in silos. The brand recognition for ‘1066 Country’ is excellent both at home and abroad – why seek to change a system that isn’t broken?

The work of the partnership gives us an international platform, promoting us to overseas audiences - overseas visitors spend more per head than visitors within the UK, so attracting back our international visitors post-pandemic is essential.

Despite 1066 reaching out to them, HBC made this decision without coming to the table to discuss the potential for compromise or changes to the model. A public consultation was held and over 40 businesses responded, many from the Rother area, but we understand these were not shared with Councillors or the public. At best this makes a mockery of the democratic process and at worst suggests that HBC had made their decision well in advance of the vote that took place last Wednesday.

Rye would be hard-pushed to match the reach and impact achieved by 1066 marketing campaigns. The partnership approach is a strong one, and one that Rother District Council continues to believe in. Wealden District Council is also still very much in support of 1066 but it remains to be seen what shape and form the partnership will be able to take with the departure of Hastings. Watch this space.


Dates for the Diary:

Cardboard Recycling

As always please pack your cardboard as tightly as possible when you stack it in

the container.

Town Meeting - 7th March

Tilling Green Community Centre, registration at 6.30pm for a 7pm start

Walkabout Wednesdays - March 15th

Jane and Sarah will be out and about in town to chat and catch up with your news. If there’s anything you particularly want to catch up about – send us an email and we’ll make sure we drop in!

Quarterly Chamber Meeting & Networking - March 15th from 6pm

A relaxed chance to get together, share experiences of the last quarter and chat about specific issues. We have a guest speaker and it’s a curry night too – click on the link to buy your ticket.


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