We don’t see parks and green spaces as optional or a nice-to-have. Everyone should have access to open spaces, including places where children can play and others can relax in peace. We will protect green spaces in towns.
The Commons are important sites for local wildlife and biodiversity. They are a managed natural environment rather than a park. At present there are issues with access and use. We support the efforts of the Freeholders to take control of the Commons. We believe they will be more engaged and forward-thinking than a property company, whose primary motivator is, entirely reasonably, making a profit from the site.
The Nevill Grounds.
We will work with regular users such as the cricket, hockey, tennis and athletics clubs to hand control of the site to them and ensure its long-term future as a sports ground.
The United Kingdom was the first to declare a carbon emergency and to target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, as well as hosting the international climate summit UN COP26 in 2021. But we need to do more than declare our green credentials, we need to put them into action both nationally and locally.
Climate emergency action panel.
We will continue to support the aims and operation of the CEAP including the formation of the Citizens Assembly and consider a Youth Assembly. We will also make the panel discussions more transparent and invite interested parties to participate.
EV Charging Points in Tunbridge Wells.
Our aim in the borough should be to reduce the amount of CO2 within the borough. In order to reach net zero emissions by 2030 we would need to drop to 0t/ CO2 emission per capita. One of the key strategies under the Transport sector will be to introduce Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure because we need to give people an incentive to swop their polluting diesel or petrol cars to electric.
A sustainable transport strategy. To include
Bidding for new funding sources from central government for cycling routes (so far, only £2 per person pa), e-bikes and pedestrian facilities, the roll out of electric buses and fully accessible buses for people with disabilities
Reinstating concessionary fares for young people such as the Kent Freedom Pass
Encouraging private car alternatives including car clubs, car share, during peak travel times, by introducing dedicated carpool/bus lanes
Enforcing anti-idling zones
Promotion of demand responsive transport and mobility as a service;
Publication of air pollution reports and greenhouse gas emissions every year in the district by ward.
Upgrade 3,049 houses by obtaining grants to help with poor cavity wall and loft insulation and install 1,686 heat pumps per annum to eliminate gas central heating and replace this with non fossil fuel heating systems.
Power Purchase Agreement.
Develop a Power Purchase Agreement in partnership with neighbouring councils to replace gas boilers in private and public buildings such as offices, residential accommodation, community halls, mixed use development and schools using UKPN networks.
We will adopt Future Homes Standard recommendations made by the Committee on Climate Change in a report in February 2019 that no new homes will be connected to the gas grid as from 2025, and that gas boiler installation will be phased out unless replaced by low carbon-hydrogen and enabling use of hybrid heat pumps.
The big Clean Up.
We are hugely grateful to the many residents who help keep their neighbourhoods clean and tidy. We will introduce a litter-picking equipment buying scheme that will offer equipment at low cost to community groups and individuals, and we will supply rubbish sacks free of charge. In addition, we will give greater publicity to the council's 'Big Clean up' scheme which loans equipment to residents and collects the rubbish afterwards.
Although TWBC is not the lead flood authority we will continue to work with Parish Councils, KCC, Kent Highways and the water companies to alleviate the effect of flooding on communities in our borough. For example by the provision of sandbags and advice to residents of how to protect themselves. Flooding is going to get worse as a result of climate change and we support the provision of long term flood alleviation schemes, such as that proposed by the Environment Agency 10 years ago on the Alders Stream in Capel. This would have prevented at least some of the household and property flooding that caused so much pain and despair in the community when it flooded as recently as February 2020.
The impression of Tunbridge Wells borough as an affluent are is not entirely undeserved. However, 22% of children in Tunbridge Wells grow up in poverty. This is not a “town problem”. Many villages suffer from economic depression. We recognise this problem and will work with parish councils to help wherever we can. Seeking out insulation grants from central government initiatives should allow us to address a significant portion of heating poverty.
Dislocation from the urban centre of the borough makes access to services problematic for many in rural communities. People need schools, dentists and surgeries as close by and within walking distance if possible. They need community centres, sports grounds, play spaces for children and kick about all weather sports grounds. This could include BMX trails or skateboarding parks. We will review how we deliver services to more isolated communities.
Rural bus services. We will work with KCC to ensure that there is a credible provision of bus services for rural communities especially around school times. They must be accessible, reliable and tailored to passengers' needs. In addition we should transition to electric busses or clean energy fuels as soon as possible. A dial a bus service would also be a step forward.
We will support and maintain community centres outside of the town.