Nationally, Boris Johnson and his Government have been elected to ‘Get Brexit done’. Will they? Possibly. Will they deliver on all of the promises made, while maintaining the integrity of the United Kingdom? I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Locally, Tunbridge Wells residents are angry that £10.8m of their money has been spent over the past few years on Calverley Square, a project which never saw the light of day. They have questions about how this could happen, and they are entitled to answers.
To prevent similar mistakes from happening again, an independent audit of the project should be carried out. However Conservative-run Tunbridge Wells Council intend for Conservative-run Mid-Kent services to carry the audit out. The Liberal Democrats have a number of problems with this.
Firstly, our local leadership were determined to plough on, spending millions of taxpayers’ money on a project they knew was unpopular. This suggests systemic problems in consultation and decision making, which needs proper investigation by a truly independent body.
The Conservative-run council will only admit to costs of £10.8m. We believe there are millions missing from this figure. Therefore to know the true cost, the audit must be conducted by a competent body wholly independent of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. Residents - who are paying for this failed project - deserve to know the real cost to the tax payer.
More widely, we must increase the transparency around decision-making. Our council must treat members of the public who elect us as equals who can guide our decisions, rather than passive customers. A truly independent inquiry can help us learn lessons and avoid making similar mistakes in future.
Likewise, the recent defection of Councillor Christian Atwood from the Tunbridge Wells Alliance (TWA) to the Conservatives does little to foster the faith voters place in us. TWA was set up specifically to challenge the Conservatives’ Calverley Square project, and he was voted in by residents of Park ward with the project at the forefront of their minds – after all, Calverley Grounds, the intended site of the new complex, sits within Park ward. For him to move camp so soon after his election will feel like a betrayal to the hundreds of people who voted for him last May. And worth bearing in mind that he is joining a Conservative council group who are trying to get away with marking their own homework.
To end with a quote from Walter Anderson: “Trust is like a vase; once it’s broken, though you can fix it, the vase will never be same again”.
Lib Dems set out timetable to elect next leader
The Liberal Democrats have today agreed the timetable to elect the next leader of the Liberal Democrats.
At a meeting today of the party’s Federal Board in London, the party agreed to open nominations for candidates on the 11th of May and close them on the 28th of May.
The ballot will then open on the 18th of June and close on the 15th of July, after which the party will announce the next leader.
In the meantime, Ed Davey MP and Party President Mark Pack will continue as joint acting leaders of the Liberal Democrats.
Speaking after the meeting, Liberal Democrat Party President Mark Pack said:
“I want first to thank Jo Swinson for her determined leadership of the Liberal Democrats.
"The Liberal Democrats are the home for everyone who shares our vision of an outward-looking, caring country that celebrates diversity and benefits from high-quality public services.
“With our party membership at record levels, I urge everyone else who shares our values to join us in the coming days and vote in the leadership election.”
Thanks to everybody who voted Liberal Democrat in the General Election. While we came second, we were heartened by the response in Tunbridge Wells. We hope that we will continue to be able to ensure that liberal voices are heard in Tunbridge Wells and beyond.
A big thank you to our candidate, Ben Chapelard, who took unpaid leave from his work as an Assistant Headteacher to work as our parliamentary candidate. He received a positive welcome on many doorsteps and in schools, charities, businesses Tu and community groups throughout the consistituency.
Have a very happy Channukah, Festivus, Christmas, Kawanzaa and New Year (or whatever else you would like to celebrate)!