The derelict site of the former ABC Cinema in Tunbridge Wells town centre has reached its 13th year. Despite endless promises and excuses from the Conservatives running the council no real progress has been made on redeveloping the site for local people.
Local Liberal Democrats are pressing for decisive action to be taken by the council. They are leading the campaign to press the council into purchasing the site and developing it for the community.
“It is just shocking and inexcusable that the Conservatives have left this prime town centre site derelict for 13 years! There are children in our town who have grown up never knowing it as anything other than a disused grotspot.” said local Lib Dem councillor, Ben Chapelard.
“The Liberal Democrats are launching a campaign to force the Conservatives to take action. We want them to use existing powers such as a Compulsory Purchase Order to get some progress on getting the site redeveloped.
“All we ever hear are excuses or attempts to shift the blame onto someone else. When they’re not displaying a “can’t do attitude” they’re blaming others for not using their legal powers to resolve the situation. Enough is enough! The Conservatives have let this drag on for 13 long years and it’s time to put an end to it.
“We are asking local people to sign our petition at www.twlibdems.org.uk to put pressure on the council to act. Together we can put an end to 13 years of Conservative failure.”
Leader of the Opposition Lib Dem Cllr David Neve added: “The whole thing is a ‘horror show’. Visitors to Tunbridge Wells are greeted, on arrival by devastation and dilapidation. What a sorry picture this presents. Tunbridge Wells deserves better from the Conservatives. Please sign our residents’ petition.”
David Laws, Liberal Democrat schools minister, said Kent schools will benefit from a new deal brokered by Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister.
The Liberal Democrats were able to negotiate in the coalition for an increase to the Pupil Premium, which gives additional money towards the education of disadvantaged children, and the introduction of free school lunches. Both policies are being implemented by David Laws.
“This will really help children in Kent get on in life. It is an important step to help us build a stronger economy and a fairer society,” Laws told an audience in Headcorn.
The Pupil Premium allocation for 2013-2014 (this school year) is £47.8 million across 54,200 children for Kent & Medway at £900 for most children.
David Laws announced that the estimated pupil premium for 2014-2015 (next year) will be £60.9 million across a similar number of children. Next year the pupil premium will remain the same for kids in secondary school but rise by a whopping 44% for primary children to £1,300.
Free School Meals are also to be offered to all infant children, i.e. those in Receptions and Years 1 and 2, from next year. There are 59,568 kids currently eligible in Kent and Medway at around £400 for each child. This will now go to all youngsters at a total injection of an additional £23.8 million.
This all amounts to total increase of £132.5 million additional money for Kent schools from now until July 2015. It also amounts to a grand total of £182 million across the whole of this Parliament.
South East England Lib Dem European Candidate Alan Bullion has pledged his support for Britain’s continued membership of the European Union, which each year provides billions of pounds of funding across the United Kingdom.
This follows an important new report by respected academic Professor Iain Begg, who has worked out how many jobs rely on trade with the European Union. He has calculated that trade with the EU accounts for 4,614 jobs across the borough of Tunbridge Wells – which also includes Cranbrook and surrounding villages in the Maidstone and Weald constituency.
From 2007-2012 the European Investment Bank provided €26.7 billion of loans in the UK, alongside €8.4 billion of investment. “Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society. Part of that is recognising the huge benefits our membership of the European Union brings. Around 3.5 million jobs are linked to Britain’s membership of the EU. I know many people have issues with the EU, but as we climb out of a terrible recession, is this really the time to risk our membership of the world’s most valuable single market?,” said Alan Bullion.
Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also warned of the dangers of leaving the European Union saying:
“Our economy is finally turning a corner, but the recovery is fragile. We should be focusing on finishing the job and laying the foundations for long-term growth, not entertaining the idea of an EU exit that would throw our recovery away. Let me be absolutely clear: leaving the EU would be economic suicide. You cannot overstate the damage it would do to British livelihoods and prosperity.”
Tory County Councillors have spent £5,000 of taxpayers’ money – on financial advisers to help them avoid paying tax on their travel expenses.
“This is a disgrace,” said Alan Bullion, Liberal Democrat prospective Euro candidate and life-long Kent resident. “As leader of the council who lobbied and lobbied for the money, Paul Carter should resign. How can he possibly justify wasting public money in a legal battle to increase his expenses when he is closing children centres in our borough because of lack of funds?
“The tax authorities had already undertaken a lengthy investigation and ruled that there was absolutely no justification in letting off county councillors from paying tax on their expenses – yet still Mr Carter pushed and pushed for the money.”
This shocking revelation follows the recent storm when it was revealed Mr Carter had tried to increase the mileage allowance of county councillors from 45p a mile to 67p a mile – a move exposed by Trudy Dean, leader of the Lib Dem group at County Hall. The spending hike had been backed by a motley alliance of Tory, Labour and UKIP, with the UKIP leader declaring himself behind the Tory measure “all the way”.
Thanks to Lib Dem pressure and a public outcry, Mr Carter backed down. But after this latest revelation that he used public money to feather the nest of councillors, can he survive?
Will the old cinema site eventually get a new tenant? What are the ruling Conservatives on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council doing about the delapidated eyesore?
For twelve long years the residents of Tunbridge Wells have been calling for action. The answer has been one long deafening silence and a story of endless inertia.
Tunbridge Wells Lib Dems have campaigned long and hard for action, organised petitions and most importantly, asked the general public want they want to happen.
We will be campaigning again on the streets on Wednesday, July 17, when local South East Lib Dem MEP Catherine Bearder will also be visiting the town centre from 3 to 4pm.
More details here soon…
Sheridan Bowie’s plans published in the Courier for a Colebrook Science Park on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells should be welcomed.
We urgently need more science and hi-tech jobs, as well as apprenticeships, and this scheme could therefore be ideal.
Provided the A21 widening goes ahead, and this development is connected by a frequent shuttle bus with nearby High Brooms station, then I can foresee few problems with increased road traffic.
One of the So Make A Difference visions for the town which I backed was for a university campus.
If the Colebrook site could be used to develop medical breakthroughs with our local hospital facilities, as well as agricultural crop improvements with neighbouring researchers such as in Hadlow and East Malling, we could really have a campus of lasting benefit both to West Kent and beyond.
Some years ago, Sir Bob Geldof, who also lives near Faversham, was involved in just such a proposal at Wye in East Kent.
Sadly that project failed to get planning approval, mainly due to local objections, in a time of lower unemployment, but perhaps Sir Bob and others could be approached again for financial backing by Mr Bowie?
Tunbridge Wells Liberal Democrats welcome the public inquiry into dualling the A21 road link.
The long-delayed opening of the inquiry marks a much-awaited milestone in the campaign to get the A21 turned into a dual carriageway between Tonbridge and Pembury.
The case for dualling the road is overwhelming, despite the environmental concerns voiced by some. Over 35,000 vehicles, including ambulances and heavy lorries, use this section of the A21 every day. It is also a vital link for many with the new much-improved Pembury hospital and its A&E facilities.
Ironically, for a road linking Pembury hospital with the cottage hospital at Vauxhall Lane in Tonbridge, this stretch of the A21 is an appalling accident blackspot. Over the past five years, this section has seen 71 accidents involving people being injured, and in four of these cases fatal. In many parts, it is also a potential deathtrap for motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians, as I have found trying to deliver Focus leaflets to households along the route.
There is also the wider pollution displacement factor to consider. Because the delays on the A21 are so notorious, traffic studies have shown that more cars and lorries use the A26 through Southborough and Tunbridge Wells to avoid it. This causes congestion and exhaust fumes to blight a heavily residential area, which also has many of our local secondary and primary schools, with the result that all suffer from detiorating air quality and noise.
We hear the views of the Kent Green Party and the Woodland Trust, but would argue that in this case the majority view for common sense prevails.
The inquiry has already heard that travel times between Pembury and Tonbridge would be reduced by 69% if the A21 is dualled. There should therefore be no further unnecessary delays which cost still more lives.
Read more: http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/Dualled-A21-slash-journey-times-69-Tonbridge/story-19004314-detail/story.html#ixzz2TqbG33xh
UKIP – and the threat to Britain in Europe
a discussion led by
Cllr Roger Walshe
West Kent EM Annual General Meeting
7.30 pm on Wednesday, 5th June 2013
Judd Room, Angel Centre, Angel Lane, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1SF
The West Kent Branch of the European Movement will be holding an open meeting followed by its Annual General Meeting in the Judd Room, Angel Centre, Angel Lane, Tonbridge, Kent on Wednesday, 5th June 2013, at 7.30pm.
EU PARLIAMENT TRIP
28th and 29th May 2013
Why not join us on our fascinating two day trip to the Ancient City of Brussels and the European Parliament.
The trip includes:
An evening to explore Brussels on your own
Hotel for Bed and Breakfast
Lunch on the 29th May
Tour of the EU Parliament Building
Tour of the Committee of the Regions Building
A Question and Answer Session with some MEP’s
Price £160.00 per person.
This tour can be booked via Marguerita Morton at 309 St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 9XE email@example.com
Tel No. 01892 522756
Or via the Eventbrite Website:-
Many Thanks to all those who voted for our Liberal Democrat candidates in Tunbridge Wells seats on Thursday May 2, as well as those who helped in different ways both during the campaign and on the day. Although UKIP gained one seat from the Conservatives, and we failed to win elsewhere, please rest assured that we will be campaigning for victory again in May 2014 and take nothing for granted from the local electorate.