How would you summarise why you feel residents should vote for you?
The Liberal Democrats are the opposition on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. We punch well above our weight - and that of the other opposition parties. We are running candidates in all 16 of the borough seats on May 3rd. We pride ourselves on listening to our residents and getting things done on their behalf. Getting the old cinema site cleaned up, campaigning for doorstep glass recycling and saving CCTV monitoring from being switched off by the Conservatives are just three examples of what we Liberal Democrats have achieved in the last few years.
What would represent a successful result?
Our candidates are highly motivated people who want to do their bit for the communities in which they live.The Liberal Democrats plan to hold the seat that we have and gain several more on the borough council in order to better hold the Conservatives to account. We hope to have some very talented new Councillors as part our council group. Our candidates are highly motivated people who want to do their bit for the communities in which they live.
What is your number one priority for the town?
To ensure that the borough is a great place to live for every one of the approximately 130,000 residents. There can be no more reductions in services as they have been cut to the bone. We want Tunbridge Wells to be a pioneer in 21st-century living. We need a strategic plan for the centre of Tunbridge Wells. The Conservative’s piecemeal approach has not worked and is not working. We need to tackle congestion, illegal levels of air pollution and the lack of safe roads, pavements and bicycle lanes.
And where would you get the money to finance your ambitions [eg. Reductions, savings]
More partnership working will achieve savings and income can be generated from property the council own. With council taxes increasing, we would seek to use the current budget differently in order to both ensure good public services and to make sure that the town and borough are great places for all our residents. For example, we would save the Conservatives’ £1.3m face lift of Mount Pleasant to deal with the root cause of the problem: Congestion. A rethink on the Civic Development would also give TWBC more room to address the concerns of residents.
What is the party’s position on the Civic Complex?
We oppose the £93m Civic Development. It has not been thought through and therefore fails to address the needs of the town. It is the wrong priority. It is a massive debt for a project which is the wrong place. The money could be better spent. The town does need investment but it needs to be the right kind - and not at the expense of public services and charity and community support groups’ funding. We think that the current plans are not fit for purpose and also question the proposed site because of traffic congestion and the impact that it will have on Calverley Park and Mount Pleasant Road.
What would you like to be seen done to enhance Tunbridge Wells centre?
We need a comprehensive plan for public buildings and to ensure that planning permission is granted to developments which enhance the town and are fit for purpose. We need to ensure that developers contribute to local services and provide affordable housing. We would like to see social housing as part of the mix. We would also like to work with businesses and developers to ensure the development of small and medium sized businesses and adequate office space in Tunbridge Wells.
And what can be done about traffic in the town?
Contrary to what the Conservatives say, the answer is not building £18m of new car parks at Crescent road and in Calverley Grounds. Let’s talk specifics. Tunbridge Wells Liberal Democrats believe we have to encourage different modes of transport. We continue to campaign for increased cycle lanes, park & ride scheme and a pedestrian and bike friendly town centre. It is not rocket science - it just needs the political will to do it!
Finally, should a candidate live in the ward they represent?
All our councillors live in the wards they represent. Ideally, the candidate should have strong ties to the ward they represent. It means they have a vested interest to do the very best by their ward rather than just seek election to public office. Every resident will have the opportunity to vote Liberal Democrat in these elections.