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  • Writer's pictureJane Brook

March Newsletter 2024

Updated: Apr 2

Happy Easter! 🌷 Spring has sprung and the word is out...

New member welcome:

Jane Brook and Sarah Broadbent of Rye  Distruct Chamber of Commerce standing in front of the Grade 1 listed historic monument, Landgate in Rye East Sussex.
Levelling-up funding announcement

Levelling Up

After several months of keeping quiet while the news was under embargo, we were at last able to announce our successful bid for Levelling Up Funding. 

Last November the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities met with us to ask how we felt Rye’s business community might best benefit from funding from the £20M Levelling Up Partnerships Pot for Rother. We were given just five days to come up with an initial ‘wish list’ of ideas – and believe us when we say we didn’t hold back! Our list of ideas covered many different projects totalling £2.1m.  We heard back in January that from our list of ideas, DLUHC had approved the following:

  • £60K of revenue funding for a BID feasibility study and campaign 

  • £25K of capital funding for improvements to the public realm in the town centre

Much more information will follow on both the BID project and the Public Realm project.  But in short:

We are currently in the concluding phases of selecting a consultancy to conduct a feasibility study for a BID in Rye. Once this selection process is completed, detailed information regarding the study's process and timeline will be provided. It is anticipated that the study will commence in early summer.

Collaboration with multiple stakeholders is underway to develop a plan for enhancing the public realm. Upon finalising our plan, a meeting will be scheduled for members to vote on the proposed improvements.


Tourism Week / BBC

Rye Chamber pitched a story to BBC South East for English Tourism Week and liaised with three chamber members – The Mermaid, The Heritage Centre, Camber Kitesurfing who kindly contributed their time to be part of the report. The resulting piece focused on the challenges of the trading environment that our tourism businesses are currently operating in but rather missed some of the positive initiatives being undertaken in order to remain resilient. We followed up the BBC report with our own Opinion Editorial in Rye News last week to expand further on some of those issues.

March Meeting Success!

Our March social event was a fabulous success even if we do say so ourselves. Over 50 of you joined us at the Waterworks Microbrewery and Taproom for a really fun evening of networking over excellent beer and gourmet Wild Flame Pizza.   We heard from David Roder at the Taproom about the sustainable initiatives that the Brewery has implemented; Lucie Bolton, Climate Strategy Officer at Rother District Council updated us on the climate strategy for the region.  Kerry Campbell gave a fundraising appeal for the KSS Air Ambulance and Tracey-Anne Cook announced the summer event at Littlegate Farm that the Chamber will be partnering with to bring you another fabulous summer BBQ!

We also launched Carbon Reduction Action Box for our members and will be announcing dates for the first of these training opportunities very soon!


Your Rye Round-up

It’s been another month of meetings! Here are the results of the meetings we have had on behalf of our members this month....

Rye Town Council

As reported in February's newsletter, we now meet with the Town Clerk on a monthly basis to make sure we are all in the picture.  

This month we were frustrated to learn that the Town Council is still awaiting a response from Rother District Council about the future of the public loos in Rye.

We also discussed the changes afoot with regard to Rother District Council’s ceasing of maintenance of The Salts, particularly for Bowls Club whose future will be in immediate jeopardy without fundraising or financial assistance.

Last month we reported on how strongly we felt about the need to have a joined-up approach for Rye. We attended the Annual Town Meeting on 6th March which has been reported in more detail by Rye News. We are delighted to announce that The Rye Chamber of Commerce will now have the opportunity to address these significant public gatherings in the future.

Town Council Tourism Strategy

As you will no doubt recall from last month’s newsletter, we have been lobbying the Town Council to revisit the ill-thought-through tourism strategy that was adopted last Autumn.  Conscious that the business community had not been consulted or engaged with at any point, the Chamber intervened to suggest an amended plan with greater efficiencies. 

Our proposal suggested that rather than create another town map, the town council consolidate their requirements with the existing town map (produced by Domain Support Ltd), thereby freeing up considerable town council funds to be assigned to other areas of attention for the tourism strategy, namely improvements to the heritage signage around town.

map of Rye, Eat Sussex
The free & long established town map

The Town Clerks duly amended their tourism strategy taking our suggestions into account and this was presented to councillors at the meeting on the 25th March. Cllr Hansen proposed to support the amendments, Cllr Boyd seconded the motion and the vote was carried. We will be working closely with the town council on this shift in tourism strategy and will keep members updated but we are thrilled that our newly established relationship with the Town Council and our regular lobbying has had a tangible impact on this important issue. 

Town Council Meeting 25th March

In addition to the revised tourism strategy being adopted, we are pleased to report that at this month’s meeting, we were pleased to be given the opportunity to announce our Levelling Up funding. 

We are also pleased to report that thanks to lobbying from Guy Harris, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Rye & Hastings, Councillors agreed to postpone a decision on funding the replacement of robes. Read the write-up in Rye News.

Rye Bowls Club

When we became aware of the challenges facing the Bowls Club, we scheduled a meeting with the leadership team, followed by discussions with the president and other key stakeholders to explore potential avenues for support. We have identified the Sussex Community Foundation as a possible funding resource and are collaborating with the club to plan a fundraising event in the upcoming summer months. The club's financial target for annual operations is £13,000, and anyone interested in contributing to fundraising efforts or exploring sponsorship opportunities is encouraged to contact us at Thank you!

Hard work and Girl Power!

We met with Tenterden Chamber of Commerce officers at their request earlier in the month. They were incredibly complimentary about the Rye Chamber and how dynamic and engaged with members we are. They asked after our ‘secret sauce’ - "how do you do so much and continue to attract new members each month?" 

We were happy to reveal: Teamwork by incredible committed female volunteers that care and get sh*t done 💪 .

International Women’s Day

We had some fun on International Women’s Day visiting our fabulous women-led businesses in town to show our support!  Jane was so enthusiastic in announcing our arrival everywhere we went I think we rather surprised a lovely woman in the changing rooms at Collette who may have momentarily thought we were auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent (apologies Claire – but thank you for joining in the fun!).

Battle Marketing Group

We met with Debbie Grant from Battle Marketing Group to discuss opportunities for cross-promotion of events and activities in each of our respective areas. 

Rye News

We met with Rye News to discuss working more closely with them going forward. Rye News, Rye Chamber and Rye Arts Festival are three organisations that exist to promote Rye as a place to live, visit and do business in,  #RyeTogether is a shared hashtag that you’ll see more of going forward. 

People Planet Pint

🌱 Our second People Planet Pint event took place on the 7th of March at The Queens Head and was well attended. The evenings are a really good way of chatting about the plans, ideas and challenges of making our businesses more sustainable and how we can help each other through advice and shared experience. Do come and join us for the next one – Thursday 4th April at the Queen's Head from 6pm – event is free to attend but please book a place via the website and remember - first drink is on the house! 🍺

Winchelsea Road Development

We attended the public consultation on the planned Winchelsea Road development to learn more. Next steps seem to hinge on ESCC approving the suggested plans for access after which planning applications will be made. We will keep you updated.

Great British Spring Clean

Every year we challenge a small team of volunteers from the community to collect 10 sacks of rubbish around town in just one hour. On Sunday 24th March as part of the Keep Britain Tidy – Great British Spring Clean we gathered at The Look Out to collect our gear and we hit the streets. Even an hour makes a difference, and we like to think we left the town centre – and the market car park in particular – a good deal tidier after our efforts. 

If you’re interested in our forensic analysis of the litter this year compared to last – fewer vapes, but more takeaway drink lids, and lots of mess left behind by untidy market traders in the market car park – coat hangers, packaging and so on. Special thanks go to our junior pickers Fern and Nola Brown - great effort! 👏

Grant Meeting – to be rescheduled

We had arranged an evening for members to learn more about the Business Regeneration Grants with Cllr Christine Baylis and Kat Beer from Rother District Council. However, before we knew it (perhaps due in part to our promotion of the scheme?), the scheme was oversubscribed so we have had to postpone, pending extra funding opportunities to be announced.  Watch this space!


Dates for Your Diary

  • 🍺🌱Our Monthly PEOPLE PLANET PINT sustainability meet up at The Queens Head on Thursday 4th April. First pint is free - kindly sponsored by Krystal .

  • FREE HEADSHOTS & VIDEO OFFER - 🎥 Tuesday 7th May organised by Ready to Grow in Bexhill for start-up and early-stage businesses in Rother.

  • BUSINESS SUSTAINABILITY MEETUP - Thursday 16th May a FREE event organised by 🌱 Sustainable Tenterden at Chapel Down Winery. Talks, Networking and Wine Tastings PLUS our very own Sarah Broadbent will be presenting the 🦀 CRAB – Carbon Reduction Action Plan in the Box.



This month’s spotlight is on bespoke holiday property rental business Rye & Beyond.

Watch the Instagram Reel now. Want us to do a Spotlight feature on your business? Contact us today! 01797 222857.



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