In 2019, a commitment was made by Ryde Town Council to put deckchairs back onto Ryde beaches. The Covid19 pandemic in 2020, made this impossible, but 2021 will see this this commitment happen. There is more to this deck chair action than meets the eye as it was the first decision in 2019, I led on as Mayor which led to a rollercoaster of change in Ryde Town Council.
- Putting deckchairs on Ryde beaches has meant Ryde Town Council (RTC) has to negotiate with IW Council who own them for the deckchair licence which has started a range of discussions that will enable RTC to achieve the ultimate goal of getting control of our beaches (public realm) with the Ryde community as opposed IW Council controlling them from Newport. This local management will improve the visitor and resident experience.
- This Deckchair move is the first move for Ryde Town Council to start generating income and move the Council away from total dependency on the precept (raising income from taxing local residents). At present Ryde Town Council is totally dependent on its annual precept but by 2025, in theory this could change and benefit local residents without the need for annual increases. The Council has now appointed a Business Development Manager whose job is to promote the Town, develop services and develop business initiatives to increase income for the Town and Council. His first initiative is to establish a cabin at the Harbour to hire deckchairs and other beach equipment from this summer.
- In 2022, Ryde Town Council will own Ryde Harbour and have a long lease on Eastern Gardens and other land around the harbour. This will follow the deckchair initiative and increase the income generation plan. It will start to revitalise the esplanade as RTC is going to invest in the Harbour and area and increase activities on the seafront. It will create jobs and attract more visitors to Ryde and boost our economy.
- This expansion and vision will start a further rollercoaster of revitalising the whole seafront and link with local businesses and social enterprises such as Waterside Pool, Natural Enterprise and Monkton Arts. Natural Enterprise and Monkton Arts are liaising in the refurbishment of Appley Tower and creating a range of activities on Appley Beach which will link to the activities created by RTC at the Harbour end. RTC has already started discussions with IW Council to transfer the ownership of the the Canoe Lake with Waterside Pool and looking at a long-term plan with Waterside Pool to transform this area.
- This deckchair initiative is part of a wider rebranding of Ryde linked to Ryde Business Association “We Love Ryde” campaign and Ryde Historic Action Zone initiated in 2020. Ryde is revitalising and coming out of Covid19 with a plan. New retail businesses are opening on the High Street, Union Street and Esplanade. The Pier and Interchange has £10 million investment to revitalise which alongside all the other changes in the Town, visitors will get a whole new Ryde experience and spend their money here with all the economic benefits this brings. The new trains and transport operator initiatives such as Hover Local all add to the revitalising the attraction for visitors and people across the Island to come and enjoy Ryde and spend their money here and this creates jobs.
- Ryde Town Council has started along side the deckchairs a host of other long-term investments such as purchasing historic empty buildings like St. Thomas’s Church, Vectis Hall and hopefully in 2022, Ryde Theatre/Town Hall. These initiatives have started a revitalisation of the Town Centre, create new income streams for the council, and reduce the need to rent premises as we will own adequate premises to operate services from, and more importantly use long-term borrowing at very low interest rates to invest in the town. This is a sound time to invest in buildings as post-Covid19 there will be grant funds and investors to boost the economy of Towns such as Ryde and Ryde has a ready portfolio of investment opportunities and the staff team to engage proactively. Ryde Town Council has a 5 year Corporate Plan, A Charter, and a Ryde Place Plan, all the tools needed to excite investors.
I tell you all this and could tell you more as putting a deckchair on Ryde beach this summer of 2021, post-covid19, is a symbol of vision and hope for an exciting future for Ryde. It is the start of an exciting journey for Ryde. Back in 2019, when a member of Ryde Society asked the Council, “when are deckchairs going to be back on the beaches as they were for decades, Mr Mayor“, and I bravely said 2020, I did not know the pandemic was around the corner. However, I can say confidently the deckchairs will be back in 2021 and a whole lot more. Ryde Town Council has transformed over the last 12 months and actions speak louder then words, so join me this summer as I sit on a deckchair on Ryde beaches in glorious sun eating an ice cream and looking over our beautiful beaches. I love Ryde.