SPORTS & LEISURE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ARTS, CULTURE & FESTIVALS
Arts and culture.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Grants and loans.
The council will continue to provide small grants to some events and make available larger loans to promote events.
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.
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.
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).
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.
COVID & THE POST-COVID WORLD
COVID-19 is perhaps the biggest issue in the UK right now. We at Tunbridge Wells borough level can’t really affect the national response to COVID. What we can affect is how the town and borough rebuild after COVID.
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.
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.