Manifesto

Tunbridge Wells Liberal Democrat 2021 Manifesto

 

A message from Ben Chapelard, Tunbridge Wells Liberal Democrat PPC and council group leader

 

Tunbridge Wells borough is ready. We, the Liberal Democrats are ready. It is time for much needed change in Tunbridge Wells.

Tunbridge Wells has been run by the Conservatives since 1997. They have had time to do the things residents need.  Some of their achievements are good, but they have become out of touch with residents. Remember the £11m they wasted on the Calverley Square project? Their outlook is towards the past.

It is high time for a fresh new approach. 

As the opposition in Tunbridge Wells, the Liberal Democrats have achieved much. We work hard for our residents, listen to them and continue to campaign on the issues that matter to you. Our manifesto is the result of thousands of conversations on the doorstep listening to your concerns.

Our manifesto is our ambitious vision for where we live. I hope you will feel confident to lend the Liberal Democrats your vote so that we can deliver on your aspirations for our town and borough.

With best wishes,

 

Councillor Ben Chapelard

Leader of the Opposition Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

 

Introduction

1.  We believe in a bright future for the Town and Borough of Tunbridge Wells. This is a great place, which has been sadly neglected for twenty years of Conservative rule. We have a great position geographically, some great local businesses and arts and sports and above all a community which genuinely cares. We can do so much better.

2.  Our objective is:

A clean and safe town and borough where people of all ages and backgrounds want to and can live, work, learn and play. 

3.  This means we need affordable housing, we need activities for old and young. We want sports fields and green spaces where people can walk and kick a ball around, take their dogs and exercise. We need thriving local businesses (as well as the big chains), a range of good jobs locally and excellent communications with London where, in normal times, so many of us work. We need a thriving and diverse arts scene so that provides something for everyone. We want sustainability, green investments, cleaner air and less congested roads.

 

The three pledges for the next council

4.  In May 2021 the incumbent Tories will more likely than not lose their majority on the borough council and some form of coalition, led by the Liberal Democrats, will take over leadership of the borough. We the opposition pledge to:

a.  LISTEN: We have a statutory requirement to consult, but we need to pay more than lip-service to consultation, to consult, to listen and to bring communities in from the early stages of decision-making.

b.  BE TRUTHFUL: We will have disagreements and frictions, but we will always be truthful with each other and the public.

c.  WORK COLLABORATIVELY: A diversity of opinions is a strength not a weakness and we will work together, hearing each other out and debating the best outcome for the borough.

 

The economy.

5.  We want the private sector to thrive. We particularly want small and locally owned businesses to thrive. Money raised in those businesses is most likely to stay in Tunbridge Wells and circulate in our community. We are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the self-employed and the three million people excluded from state aid over this difficult period.

6.  COVID-19 has hammered all levels of government. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is no exception. It is not possible yet to say how bad the council’s finances will be in 2021. Tunbridge Wells is losing roughly a million pounds a month at present. There may be more government money given to local authorities (though Tunbridge Wells has not done especially well out of the previous payments), but there may be no further payments. One of the first actions of any new council will be to approve a new budget.

7.  There will be pressure to cut spending, which we will resist strongly. Council services are already pared back to a minimum. There is not the scope for major savings in delivered services. 

8.  Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has a reasonably large property portfolio. Whilst 2021 is unlikely to be a good year to sell property it is quite likely we will need to realise capital from these assets to see us through the lean period to follow the COVID-19 crisis. In this respect we are in a stronger place than many councils who don’t have comparable portfolios. Several will go bankrupt. In addition, the property portfolio contains several important heritage buildings which, if retained, will be properly repaired and maintained. We will work to find new uses for surplus space in council-owned buildings that will benefit both the economy and the community. 

9.  Grants and allowances for small businesses. One of the things which has become clear during the pandemic is that local businesses have been poorly informed about available grants and allowances. Other parts of Kent have more effective means of communication. We will seek to establish a trusted central information hub for all businesses in the borough.

10.  Markets. Properly established, well run markets have been proven to encourage people into town centres to shop and socialise. Calverley Precinct is a natural home for a market and the local shops now see this as an asset for supporting footfall. A Royal Ascent market with a minimum if 20 stalls is essential as this requires a market manager to maintain quality and provides sufficient revenue from pitch fees to advertise the market effectively.

 

 

Sports and leisure.

11.  Sports are at the heart of a close-knit and happy community. We cannot afford to repeat the expensive debacle of throwing money at Fusion to run our leisure centres when the firm already owed TWBC money. We want access for everybody to a range of sports within an easy reach of their homes.

12.  Find a new leisure centre management company. We will not make the mistake of going for the apparently cheapest deal as our predecessors did. We will seek to recover all available monies from Fusion whilst tendering for a new provider. We have discussed the council running the three leisure centres in the borough themselves, but at present this would be a questionable decision. The council has too few officers to take on extra responsibilities immediately.

13.  Investigate options for an Olympic pool. Outside of London there is not a single Olympic pool in the South East. There is an opportunity for a well positioned town in the South East to become a hub for swimming and associated water sports. However, we will not progress on this without public consultation and without a thorough assessment of our prospects for a return on the investment. 

14.  The BMX track. The Sherwood BMX track has been repaired but is now in need of urgent upgrade or replacement by a pump track or pump park. 

15.  We are in consultation with stakeholders about potential solutions on the existing site or as part of the multi-sports facilities earmarked for that area under the new housing development (60 houses) at Colebrook fields. This would link up well with existing cycle paths, and other local play and sports facilities on the Oak Road doorstep green. To date feedback has been highly positive. We will deliver new seats and benches on site to replace those vandalised. 

16.  Green spaces. People need green spaces near where they live where they can exercise, socialise and play – whether that is serious sport or a kick about with friends. We will protect, preserve and enhance and look after the existing facilities the green spaces in built-up areas.

17.  Team sports. Team sports are great for building character, learning teamwork, health and fitness and just for fun. We will work with local teams to protect and develop sports facilities that will benefit residents for many years to come. 

18.  Boxing and combat sports. Boxing is good for angry young men (and others) who need to learn discipline and self-control. It helps self-confidence and self-worth. And of course, it is excellent for fitness. We will seek to support boxing clubs within the borough with small grants to ensure up to date kit and facilities, including provision of gloves, groin protectors and gumshields for those who can’t afford them.

19.  Indoor nets. Tunbridge Wells currently does not have an indoor nets facility for cricket practice. We would look to make money available for a site to establish these on condition of it being open to the local club and schools.

20.  The Nevill Ground. We will work with regular users such as the cricket, hockey, tennis, running and athletics clubs to ensure its long-term future as a sports ground.

21.  Tunbridge Wells Target Shooting Club. As a general principle we do not believe in selling off sporting facilities which are in regular use without providing an alternative venue within the borough with equal or better than facilities. 

22.  3G pitches for football, hockey and seven a side rugby. 3G all weather pitches provide a great facility for a range of team sports. We will seek to fund two new pitches in town and look to provide pitches at Paddock Wood and Cranbrook to be administered by the leisure centre staff. 

 

 

Planning and Housing.

23.  We oppose the Tory power grab of the planning system as set out in the recent Government white paper. The proposals for zoning would reduce democracy and local accountability.

24.  We want to live in a town and borough where our friends and family and especially our children can afford to live alongside us. We cannot forcibly push down the price of existing property and nor would we wish to, therefore, affordable housing must be generated in new developments. Government regulation requires every local council to have a five-year housing supply. If this is not met, then planning applications can come forward for sites which would not necessarily be expected with an up-to-date local plan. We need to recognise this and work to keep control of our borough. We recognise both the need for that extra housing and the implications of not achieving it.

25.  We will only support new housing developments where they contain the required proportion of affordable housing. This is missing from the strategic sites envisaged by TWBC at Reg 18.

26.  Tudeley and East Capel. We support in principle garden-village type developments. However, there are substantial issues with flooding, which must be mitigated. We will closely monitor the master planning process throughout and will not allow development without the necessary measures.

27.  Brownfield sites. The burden of extra development (80%) has fallen upon the town and the result is there just isn’t an abundance of brownfield alternatives to rural developments. Where they do exist we would prioritise those as sites for development. However, we will not lie to the public and pretend this a viable option to reach the full number of houses that central government requires us to build.

28. As liberals we support the freedom of our councillors and activists to campaign as their conscience dictates on developments that directly affect their local community. This is why when the Local Plan was voted on in Full Council, Liberal Democrat councillors were given a free vote.   

 

Arts and culture.

29.  Our town and borough has a rich cultural life, which we can easily support. Music is a huge part of the Tunbridge Wells’s cultural life, with many bands and performers living and performing locally, from Slaves to Charlie Rivers, and a fantastic annual event in Local & Live. The Forum, Trinity Theatre and the Assembly Hall Theatre all showcase music, theatre and other performing arts. We also have poetry nights in cafes, art exhibitions, concerts, workshops, a lantern parade and public art. The Amelia Scott cultural hub, opening in spring 2022, will be a first-class museum and art gallery featuring specially commissioned artwork, valuable permanent collections and travelling exhibitions. 

30.  Ensure the Assembly Hall Theatre’s future by proper investment. The Assembly Hall needs to receive the money it should have been receiving for maintenance over the past few years while the current administration was trying to push through the deeply unpopular Calverley Square development. It needs repairs to the roof and other maintenance work. With that investment in place it can be a really good regional theatre and events space. We support its community work further out in the borough, for example, running workshops at Cranbrook’s Vestry Hall. We commit to consulting with the management of the Assembly Hall Theatre to consider whether it should be run independently of the council, perhaps as a charitable trust.

31.  Heritage We are fortunate to have a wealth of history and important buildings all over the borough, some of which are in the council’s property portfolio. We will work with organisations who seek to preserve and enhance them, such as The Civic Society and the promoters of the Decimus Burton museum.

32.  Collaboration with local organisations. We will collaborate with the Culture, Leisure and Tourism working group of the Town Forum and support creative local community groups such as CREATE (Camden Road Education, Arts and Theatre Enterprise) and Rusthall Community Arts.

 


A thriving festival scene

33.  Tunbridge Wells is ideally located to become a hub in the South East for festivals, not unlike Cheltenham in the South West. We already have Local & Live, the Mela, Gin Festival, Puppetry Festival, Poetry Festival, International Music Festival, Food and Drink festival and the nearby Black Deer festival. This brings in people from outside who spend money in town and creates a livelier environment. We could do more and we could support the existing festivals to grow bigger still.

34.  An organising committee. We will establish a committee within the council specifically to promote these kinds of activities with the intention of this eventually becoming an independent charity. 

35.  Grants and loans. The council will continue to provide small grants to some events and make available larger loans to promote events.

36.  Provision of council resources. The council will make available office space and support and advice for services such as book-keeping to those organising festivals.

37.  A register of available venues. The council will work with local venues, hotels, bars, schools, hubs etc. to create a central database of spaces which can be used for festival activities to aid organisers. The council would seek to lift some of the administrative burden by measuring spaces and getting as much of the health and safety surveys etc. done in advance.

38.  Working with neighbouring authorities. We would look to work with our neighbouring local authorities to identify areas where we could collaborate on projects (eg working with Wealden for a literary festival with local themes).

39.  Better promotion. Overall, we need to improve how we communicate what is going on. We should resurrect the information boards we used to have in the town which have mostly disappeared, as well as tying in with Local magazine and the Visit Tunbridge Wells tourist information website.

 


Parks and green-spaces.

40.  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.

41.  The Commons. 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.

42.  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 environment.

43.  The United Kingdom was the first to declare a carbon emergency and 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.

44.  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.

45.  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 

46.  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

a.  Reinstating concessionary fares for young people such as the Kent Freedom Pass

b.  Encouraging private car alternatives including car clubs, car share, during peak travel times, by introducing dedicated carpool/bus lanes

c.  Enforcing anti-idling zones

d.  Promotion of demand responsive transport and mobility as a service;  

e.  Publication of air pollution reports and greenhouse gas emissions every year in the district by ward.

47.  Housing. 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.

48.  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. 

49.  Future homes. 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.

50.  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.



Transport

51.  Low traffic neighbourhoods. We support measures to introduce low traffic neighbourhoods for residential areas.

52.  Twenty is plenty. We want to achieve safer neighbourhoods, particularly near schools, and will consult residents on a 20mph limit in their roads. Recent consultations have shown the vast majority of respondents are in favour of such measures. 

53.  Active transport. We will seek to provide a proper cycle lane along the A26 (using section 106 money – from developers) and an increase in the number of bicycle parking spaces. We support a cycle lane along Forest Road. 

54.  Electric vehicle charging points. We will aim to deliver more electric vehicle charging points, accessing central government funds to do so.

55.  A near-miss register. We have had a recent success in getting the council to establish a near-miss register, which will allow us to track the accidents which almost happened and identify patterns and thus risk. This is a very low-cost scheme with minimal overheads and we intend to push it, make the public aware of it and see it develop into a really useful road safety tool.

56.  Potholes. They aren’t a borough responsibility but we will fight for a fair share of the funding available to rectify this issue.

 

Flooding 

57.  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.

 

Council communications

58.  Email alerts. We will encourage residents to sign up to email alerts so that we can share important information more quickly and effectively. We commit to engaging with and responding to enquiries on social media honestly. 

59.  Bringing the public face to face with leadership. We will commit to a monthly Facebook Live with the chief executive and the leader of the council. We welcome all suggestions from residents regarding Tunbridge Wells town and borough. We will set up and publicise a simple form on the council website where people can submit ideas. We pledge to consider them and respond.

60.  The Town Hall. Post-Covid, we will do more to bring community into the Town Hall. We will open it up to visits.

61.  Noticeboards. We used to have a lot of information boards in the town which have mostly gone. We’ll seek to replace these.

 

Rural affairs

62.  Rural poverty. 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.

63.  Rural services. 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.

64.  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.

65.  Community centres. We will support and maintain community centres outside of the town. 

 

Youth

66.  A Youth Forum. On several occasions over the last year, we have had the pleasure of engaging students in a ‘Youth Town Forum’ for Tunbridge Wells, where students had their say on environmental issues. Unfortunately, as with so many things, we have had to pause the initiative when lockdown came into force. We would like to create a Youth Forum or Youth Assembly offering a programme in which the council and schools can approach student candidates from any year group.

67.  Students from the age of 14 years old could participate as part of their ‘Volunteering’ section of the Duke of Edinburgh. Also, we will award any student with a certificate of achievement from Tunbridge Wells Youth Forum and we will set out guidelines on how to achieve this. Suggestions for activities in which students can participate;

a.  Submit questions / talk directly to the Tunbridge Wells Town Forum and the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council with any concerns and suggestions (any topic) that are relevant to young people in the Tunbridge Wells borough.

b.  Zoom meetings with students from other schools to share ideas and plan activities.

c.  Start a campaign in school: this could be on reducing single-use plastics (especially now this is on the increase again with single-use masks waste), clean air (walk/cycle to school), reduce food waste and save water, plant (fruit) trees on school grounds, a vegetable or wildflower garden, etc.

d. Students can also conduct a ‘listening campaign’ first, to find out what the most pressing issue is as perceived by their school’s students.  

68.  Climate change. We will set up a Youth Citizens Assembly to address issues on climate change.

69.  UNA. There will be opportunities to get involved with the United Nations Association (UNA) chapter of Tunbridge Wells & The Weald which will be hosting online webinars in 2021 in partnership with UNA Climate & Oceans and be part of an international effort to save the oceans as well as ecology.  Some renowned authors, environmentalists and youth ambassadors will contribute to the conversations leading up to UN COP26.   Students can participate in the International Youth Event - UN World Oceans Day 2021 and celebrate the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. (2021-2030)

 

COVID and the post-COVID world.

70.  Brexit and COVID-19 are the two biggest issues in the UK right now. We at Tunbridge Wells borough level can’t really affect Brexit and nor are we going to impact the national response to COVID. What we can affect is how the town and borough rebuild after COVID.

71.  A changing world. There are a lot of predictions about what post-COVID Britain will look like. Some such as more home working seem very credible. We don’t know exactly how this will shape up, but we can predict that there will bew fewer people commuting into London (London will still be hugely important to us) and this could be an opportunity for the borough. More people home-working for some or all of the week means more money spent locally and less pollution, but we must position ourselves to take advantage of this. One of the ideas for the Town Hall is to drawer down from part of the building and lease out the rest as flexible office space. Post-COVID this may well be very attractive for workers who don’t need to be in an office all day but do sometimes need office services and meeting spaces.

72.  A missed opportunity. During the first lockdown there was money made available for active travel schemes. The council was slow off the marks on this and we ended up with some pretty shoddy schemes. We won’t miss the opportunity again.

 

Parking

73.  Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is very heavily reliant on parking revenue. At the same time, high parking fees can deter shoppers and create issues for those who work in the town centre but live elsewhere. We will liaise with neighbouring boroughs to examine what has worked and what has not in their parking strategies.

74.  COVID changes the situation. COVID has changed the way we work. More of us work from home. Town centre carparks are seeing less use.

75.  Congestion in residential areas. At the same time a frankly intolerable level of congestion is blighting the lives of residents of the town centre who struggle to be able to park their cars outside their homes.

76.  Council reliance on parking revenue. Sadly, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has become reliant on parking revenue. A reduction in the number of people using the big town centre carparks is a direct threat to TWBC’s fiscal stability.

77.  Future ways and means. The car as we understand it has a limited future. There are more people working from home and self-driving cars will eventually (not any time soon) replace driven vehicles. This means investment in carparks is not economically sound at this point. 

78.  A new approach. By offering season tickets at a reduced rate to residents and to businesses to be issued as an employee perk we can take some of the cars off residential streets and maintain some of the income.

79.  Coach and bus parking The Old Coach Car Park was closed to coaches several years ago. Currently the only place for buses and coaches to park is alongside the Common on London Road. We will investigate returning the former coach park, or a portion of it, to parking spaces for coaches and buses, or identify an alternative location, in order to retain the beauty of the conservation area and help promote Tunbridge Wells as a welcoming, visitor-friendly destination. 

80.  Sunday parking. We will aim to introduce free Sunday parking along with evening parking and reduced rates on Saturdays to encourage shoppers and revellers into the town centre. This will obviously need to be phased and carefully monitored to ensure we don’t have a sudden drop-off in council revenue but as carparks are rarely full at the moment there is the potential to off-set reduced fees by greater usage.

81.  A long overdue parking strategy. A new parking strategy has been promised for years. We will push for this to be completed and issued in the first year in control of the council and an immediate review of other resident concerns once published.

 

The town centre

82.  Our town centre is in trouble. It has faced the same challenges as high streets across the country, but has also had to fair with neglect from TWBC. We want to invigorate the town centre whilst recognising it will not return to exactly what it once was.

83.  The old cinema site. The Lib Dems have worked hard in opposition to get something done with this blight on the town. We are now in the position that the site is up for sale again. There are an abundance of good ideas, but some critical information is missing. Can it be built on or not? After twenty years of what ought to be a prime development site not being developed the Conservatives’ blind faith that the market will come to our rescue and deliver a great development looks worse than naïve. It looks positively delusional. And yet it keeps changing hands. There is a need to fix this problem and it is not good enough to sit on our hands and hope that the market sorts it out. We need to understand the problem fully. If the site is viable then it’s probably going to remain too expensive for us to buy. If it is not then it’s virtually worthless and we should consider buying or leasing it and doing a minimal amount of work to open the space up, beautify it and provide for public use. Anything between those two extremes will be a much more difficult decision. We will collate all existing surveys and information and if necessary commission fresh advice from structural engineers and others in order to set the conditions for us making an informed decision on the site’s future.

84.  Markets. Properly established, well run markets have been proven to encourage people into town centres to shop and socialise. Calverley Precinct is a natural home for a market and the local shops now see this as an asset for supporting footfall. A Royal Ascent market with a minimum if 20 stalls is essential as this requires a market manager to maintain quality and provides sufficient revenue from pitch fees to advertise the market effectively.

85.  Clean-up of Calverley Precinct. At the same time the area should be tidied up to allow the space to safely maintain market and make for a pleasurable shopping experience. We will seek to site additional bicycle stands at either end of the precinct to encourage active travel.

86.  The Civic Complex.   The Civic Centre has been badly maintained by the Conservatives and is rapidly falling into disrepair. With Covid19 we have already seen many firms moving employees to home working with many unlikely to return to an office environment once the Pandemic finishes. We will explore repurposing a section of the town hall into a collaborative working environment where you are able to turn up for the day, have a quiet space and access to office services. In addition to this, we would wish to investigate an option for converting another section of the Civic Centre into an apprenticeship training college ideally with a focus on technical and IT skills development.

87.  Tourism. Tunbridge Wells has the potential to draw in day-trippers from London who want to get out of the city; visitors from the Continental Europe; and domestic holidaymakers. We need to make the town centre welcoming to those people, with tourist information boards, a tourist information centre where tourists are most likely to visit; and potentially a manned booth at the railway station on weekends. We can also look to employ part-time information guides in the summer months and work with the train companies to promote travel to our town. We can work with heritage sites within the borough to look at organised tours from the town centre. The opening of the Amelia Scott cultural hub will be a game-changer and it is imperative that we maximise the opportunities this presents. We should also consider buying or leasing heritage sites in the town centre for public benefit. The Visit Tunbridge Wells website needs a complete refresh/redesign and social media training for those running the accounts could be useful. 

88.  The Mount Pleasant “Improvements”. We are sympathetic to the aims of the project to reduce traffic in front of the War Memorial. The execution has been sub-standard. We will hold KCC to account to put right the signage and we will progress existing plans to close the Eastern ends of York and Dudley Roads to prevent rat-running. We will lobby Kent County Council to replace the pedestrian island in Monson Road.

89.  Street scene. A thriving, happy town or village needs an attractive, clean street scene We need to install recycling bins in our town centres and tackle the litter problem by anti-litter campaigns, increased enforcement of existing rules, the identification of owners of private land which are feeding the existing litter problems and force them to take action (or pay the council to deal with it if they are unable or unwilling). In residential streets close to our town centre, we will investigate more creative solutions to waste, including underground rubbish storage and Smart Bins. We must keep out pavements in good repair We must ensure the War Memorial is kept clean and tidy. We would plant more trees to soften our built-up town centres, cool our air, reduce impact of vehicle emissions and increase biodiversity. We would provide individual benches and sociable groups of benches to help combat isolation. Some will be in Sun and some will be in shade. We would love to see play equipment in pedestrianised areas to encourage people to stop, chat, have a coffee and watch their children play.

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