Brooklands School in Pennington Road

A reader of Southborough News has highlighted the importance of Brooklands School in the rich history of Pennington Road.

The school was in Doon Brae – a large house (rear of it pictured below) which was demolished in the 1970s to make way for the new Doon Brae close and the current 13 and 15 Pennington Road.

Brooklands Hse

Brooklands School in Pennington Road was run by a lady called May Jones (pictured below), who originally came from Wales.

May Jones

Thanks to another blog reader, who read the first edition of this post, I’ve now been supplied with a front view of the magnificent house.

Brooklands Front

The blog reader who got in contact and provided most of this information is Linda Williams (pictured below in her uniform). Children wore red caps or red berets.

1956 Linda at Brooklands

Brooklands Linda1

Linda Williams attended the private school from when she was 4 years old in 1955. She tells me: “My Aunt May Jones owned a huge house there. The first two floors were the school classrooms. The basement was our dining room. From the first floor, behind a door, a very steep staircase, almost a ladder, led to Aunty May’s flat. The garden had a large, cross shaped goldfish pond.”

The school sounds pretty academic and apparently the children there told people that the “B” on the logo stood for “Best”, when in fact it just stood for “Brooklands.”

Brooklands B

Linda describes how Pennington Road witnessed a daily procession of children sporting their uniforms walking to and from the bus stop on the main road every day.

Linda tells me: “It was beyond the stile, on the same side of the road. Children walked from the bus stop at the Fountain down Pennington Rd, to school in the morning. I suppose we walked back, in the same crocodile, in the evening, but I can’t remember that. The house was red brick.”

Linda continues: “My aunt, May Jones, was Welsh.  May was my Godmother, not a real Aunt.  I was happy there.  My first school. Red berets, gaberdine macs, crocodiles, nature walks.” This photo below is apparently from 1969. 1969 Brooklands

Linda writes: “The lawn here is where we ran our egg and spoon races. The terrace garden there was where I once got into trouble! It used to be just a flower garden with large stones in. I told my friends because Miss Jones was my aunt, I was allowed on this bit of garden. I walked on it and of course, I was not allowed there!  The long lawn led down in tiers to the fishpond.”

A search of the archive of the Kent and Sussex Courier from 4 March 1949, reveals the following advert.

Brooklands Ad 1949

The 1939 register shows that the house name Doon Brae pre-dates the school.  At the start of the war the old house had 7 residents including some called Dowson and some called Bird. (see below)

Doon Brae 1939

The move of the school to Doon Brae presumably followed the sale of the home by the Dowsons after the death of Leonard Joseph Dowson (a retired draper and owner of the Bon-Marche store) in 1948 – see below:Brooklands Dowson

An earlier notice recorded the death in December 1944 of Leonard’s wife Lizzie Gladys, who was “beloved wife and mother to [actually aunt of]  the Twins Mary and Diana Thomson.” In September 1948, Diana Thomson married Colin S Young. So Doon Brae was now empty…to be sold to Brooklands School owner May Jones.

The picture below from 1948 shows May Jones seated next to a lady called Thelma – a teacher who clearly loved working there.  21 years later in 1969 Thelma apparently is the same teacher pictured in the colour photo with the children shown above.

1948 Thelma & Auntie May Jones, Brooklands School

I found this article below in the Kent and Sussex Courier from 27 July 1973, which records the sad end of the Brooklands School and the demolition of the fine brick building in the days before the Southborough Conservation Area was created.

The Courier article records that: “Miss Jones’s enthusiastic endeavours quickly acquired such a reputation in local scholastic circles that soon there was a waiting list of parents eager to enter their children for the school.”

Brooklands closes

The article continues with a tribute from J.K. Ward of 2 Oak End Close: “The last red caps and red berets have now disappeared up Pennington Road and the last ark has gone up to the fountain, but memories of Brooklands will go on in the lives of we who had the happy experience of passing through these gates.”

J.K. Ward concludes: “Brooklands may soon be joining those other ghosts of the past, but I for one, will never be able to pass that old dignified red brick Victorian building…without hearing the ghostly ringing of the bell and Miss Jones’s sharp Welsh accent, wisely and firmly correcting my misdemeanours.”

I sent the Courier article to Linda Williams and she responded: “How beautiful that article was, mentioning the Fountain, the ark (crocodile actually!) So much verifying my long ago memories.”

Since my first article on Pennington Road, I have also been sent several historic photos of the road.  The first was of this house “Brampton”, which was also apparently another school and stood on the westerly corner of Pennington Road and Argyle Road – taken from Argyle Road. It occupied the space of the current numbers 19, 21, 23 and 25 Pennington Road.Brampton, Pennington Road

The picture above of “Brampton” was sent to me by Wendy Stacey (nee Massy Collier). She tells me: “I was baptised at St Thomas Church in 1944. My paternal great grandfather lived at ‘Fairlight’, 19 Pennington Road from about 1912 until he died in December 1918.  My paternal grandfather (Cecil Massy Collier) inherited the house and renamed it ‘Brampton’…. My grandfather was a school master and the house was where he taught and also were the pupils lived. By 1939 my grandfather had moved to 1 Yew Tree Road, where he remained until he died in early 1952.”

Here is another view from the other side of the house:

Brampton side view

Wendy Stacey tells me Cecil Massy Collier: “was always a school teacher. He was a specialist in the cure of stammering, studying under Benjamin Beasley (the grandfather of his wife to be) at Brampton Park in Huntingdon. He later moved to Hunstanton where started his own school for stammerers, all of whom were residents in his household. The move to Southborough meant a larger house with more room for his resident pupils, some of whom came from other countries.”

The final photo I have acquired is of a house fortunately still standing, albeit with a mysteriously reduced height of its tower.  One report – not entirely believable – is that the tower was reduced in size to prevent it being spotted by enemy planes in the Second World War and used as a directional tool.

Ferndale crop

This house is called Ferndale and is still to be found at the very end of Argyle Road. You get a view of it from the footpath that runs to the end of Pennington Road.

Do you have any more historic photographs of properties along Pennington Road?  Then do send them to martin.webber10536@gmail.com so I can record our rich history for posterity.

Meanwhile, if you want a feel for 1960s Southborough, do take a look at this YouTube film:

Lib Dem Win in Southborough North as Conservative Vote Crumbles in Tunbridge Wells

The Conservatives had a dismal day in the local council elections across the Tunbridge Wells Borough and Southborough was no exception.

The existing councillor for the Southborough North seat, Conservative Joe Simmons, was defeated by 24 votes.

The opposition parties are likely to form a new administration in Tunbridge Wells Borough to replace the Conservatives with the Conservative leader of the council offering to resign. Previously the Conservatives had stayed in key Borough council positions, even though they lost overall control at last year’s council elections.

The Conservatives have now lost both the Southborough North seats with Brendon Le Page (pictured below) taking the second seat for the Liberal Democrats after counting on Friday morning.

Brendon Le Page 2

Although the Conservative’s Joe Simmons came out second, he fought a hard campaign with his count only reduced by 10 votes from when he was elected four years ago (see comparison below). However, the Liberal Democrats mobilised new support impressively, increasing their vote tally by 78 per cent.

SOUTHBORO NORTH
VOTE 2022    
Brendon Le Page Lib Dem 630 44%
Joe Simmons Con 604 42%
John Francis Lab 203 14%

The vote figures four years ago were:

SOUTHBORO NORTH
VOTE 2018    
Joe Simmons Con 614 51%
Trevor Poile Lib Dem 354 29%
Martin Betts Lab 247 20%

The Southborough Town Council area is divided into two sections for the Borough election.  The other half of the town also voted, where Labour’s Alain Lewis (pictured below) comfortably held onto the seat he held already, taking 60% of the vote.

Alain Lewis new

Labour holds all three Southborough and High Brooms seats.

SBORO & HB
VOTE 2022    
Alain Lewis Lab 1033 60%
Nasir Jamil Con 436 25%
Yvonne Raptis Lib Dem 243 14%

The picture for the Conservatives was disastrous across the Borough, with the party dropping from 21 seats to just 13 seats, while the Liberal Democrats had 4 gains, becoming the largest party with 16 seats.

The other seats on the Borough Council are now held by the Tunbridge Wells Alliance with 9 seats, Labour 7 and Independents 3.

The Alliance had 3 gains and Labour 2 gains.

The council leader, Conservative Tom Dawlings retained his seat in Benenden and Cranbrook but his deputy David Scott was defeated in Culverden.  16 seats were up for election out of the 48 on the council.

CONSERVATIVES had 2 holds:
– Benenden & Cranbrook (Tom Dawlings)
– Pembury (Paul Barrington-King)

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS had 2 holds:
– St James (Rob Wormington)
– St John’s (Mark Ellis – by 4 votes ahead of Labour!)

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS had 4 gains:
– Broadwater (Jamie Johnson)
– Culverden (Martin Brice)
– Pantiles & St Marks (Gavin Barrass)
– Southborough North (Brendon Le Page)

TUN WELLS ALLIANCE  had 2 holds:
– Park (Nick Pope)
– Speldhurst & BIdborough (Matthew Sankey)

TUN WELLS ALLIANCE had 3 gains:
– Brenchley & Horsmonden (Stephen Mcmillan)
– Hawkhurst & Sandhurst (Ellen Neville)
– Paddock Wood East (Suzie Wakeman)

LABOUR had 1 hold:
– Southborough & High Brooms (Alain Lewis)

LABOUR  had 2 gains:
– Paddock Wood West (Ray Moon)
– Sherwood (Shadi Rogers)

 
     
       
       
       

Tunbridge Wells Council Leader calls for “Collaboration” between Parties

After last Thursday’s by-election defeat, the Conservative leader of Tunbridge Wells Council has called for all political parties to work together in collaboration in the interests of the Borough.

The Conservative’s 23 council seats are now outnumbered by the 25 seats held by opposition parties.

In an interview with Southborough News, Cllr Tom Dawlings (pictured below) said he spoke regularly with the opposition group leaders.

Cllr Dawlings said: “I believe that most of the priorities I set out when I was appointed leader of the council in May are uncontroversial and my intention is to continue to work on those priorities in the best interest of the town and borough.”

Cllr Dawlings 2

He argued that the cross-party collaborative agreement on plans to rent out the surplus space in the Town Hall for “co-working” showed that the different groups were able to work effectively together.

Cllr Dawlings outlined new proposals including an electric vehicle mini-bus service for the centre of Tunbridge Wells as well as a potential new cycle and pedestrian route from Tunbridge Wells to Tonbridge.

He said the cabinet system of running councils meant that after the full council appointed him for a four year term as leader last May, he then appointed the cabinet, which is responsible for most day-to-day decisions in the council.

Cllr Dawlings said he was unsure quite what might now happen if the Conservatives were outvoted in full council, noting that Tunbridge Wells had “no recent experience in coping with a political group having no overall majority”.

Tom Dawlings - CRFC

The major issue now confronting the council is the budget. The draft budget recently received unanimous approval at November’s Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Board and will be published for public consultation in December.

The council is planning to draw on reserves to cover the budget shortfall caused by a loss of income from charges (as a result of the Covid pandemic) and rising costs of staff, utility bills, waste collection and parks maintenance.

The budget will be addressed by the full council in February. The council plans to increase its element of Council Tax by 2% (or £5 mimimum per household). Cllr Dawlings emphasised that the bulk of the Council Tax collected by the Borough is passed onto Kent County Council, Police, Fire services and for Parish and Town Councils.

On the Speldhurst and Bidbrough by-election result, Cllr Dawlings said the result “was hugely disappointing” and the Conseratives had had an “admirable candidate” in Rowena Stanyer who took 46% of the vote.

Cllr Dawlings pointed out that his party’s share of the vote was an improvement on the May election result when the Conservatives had held the seat.

Matthew Sankey (pictured below) won the Speldhurst and Bidborough seat last week for the Tunbridge Wells Alliance Party by just 58 votes with a 50% share of the vote.

Sankey 5

The chair of Tunbridge Wells Alliance Nick Pope told Southborough News that the seat had been won by his party after “relentless campaigning”.

He said: “Matthew and volunteers were out canvassing and leafleting every day for 3 weeks across the ward.  We knew it could only be won by working hard and speaking to as many people as possible.”

Nick Pope (pictured below) emphasised the recent slide in Conservative support, pointing out that just 3 ½ years ago, the Conservatives had a massive majority, holding 43 out of 48 seats on the Borough Council.

Nick Pope crop

Nick Pope said: “It is up to Tom Dawlings, the Leader of the council, to decide what he should do. The Conservatives are still in control of the council with their majority. The Conservatives have all seats on the cabinet, all committee chairs and all committee vice-chairs. It is likely that little will change until the May elections.”

Meanwhile, the Conservative leader Cllr Tom Dawlings said he wanted to look at new options for a cycle and pedestrian route linking Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge.

Earlier plans for an “active travel” route along the A26 which Borough Council officers had worked on for some time and for which Government funding had been secured had had to be abandoned when these failed to get the support of Kent Highways officials due to safety concerns. Cllr Dawlings said he was now discussing alternative routes using existing Public Rights of Way but away from the A26.

Despite the strong campaign against development around Capel, Cllr Dawlings continued to argue the case for satisfying central Government housing demands by developing a new settlement and including new infrastructure for road improvements, new schools and medical and recreational facilities. He said this was less damaging than adding more houses to existing villages where the infrastructure was already overloaded.

Save Capel

Cllr Dawlings said the recent speech where Boris Johnson suggested that green fields should be protected from development had not yet turned into revised government policy, so the existing Local Plan including the new development at Capel was continuing its approval process and was currently with government-appointed planning inspectors.

Cllr Dawlings also noted that the Borough Council’s Local Plan covered more than housing.  He argued the plans for Kingstanding Way on the North Farm Industrial estate provided: “wonderful business and employment opportunities.”

Town Hall crop

On the state of shops in Tunbridge Wells, Cllr Dawlings noted that the Pantiles area was currently “buzzing” and he expressed optimism that the empty BHS store would soon attract a new retailer.

He said the Council was looking at ways of helping the local economy by connecting the top and bottom of Tunbridge Wells more effectively.

He said there were plans to trial a light electric vehicle mini-bus style taxi around the centre of Tunbridge Wells.  He said the idea was “really exciting” and could improve the attractiveness of the town.

Town hall cu 2

Cllr Dawlings said there was cross-party support for efforts to upgrade the existing Town Hall building.  The council is working to improve its energy efficiency and catch up with a backlog of maintenance including repairs to the leaking roof and repainting of the windows.

Having brought the building up to a high standard, the council would be renting out unused space to bring in new income streams and reduce costs for the council.

Cllr Dawlings said that council staff numbers had been cut by 30% in recent years, so there was 20,000 square feet of office space that could be rented out, with the hope of bringing 300 new office workers into the centre of the town.

Borough Council Defeat for Conservatives in Bidborough ward By-election

The Conservatives grip on power at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has slipped further after their defeat in a by-election on Thursday.

Voters in the Speldhurst and Bidborough ward elected the Tunbridge Wells restaurateur, Matthew Sankey (pictured below) from the Tunbridge Wells Alliance Party, who won 50% of the vote.

Sankey 5

The Conservatives now have 23 seats on the council and are outnumbered by the opposition parties who have 25 seats, which means the Conservatives may struggle to get their key policies approved.

Years of drama over an abandoned theatre project and controversy over large-scale housebuilding plans on green fields have worn down the Conservative’s normally rock solid majority in the Borough.

The by-election was triggered by the death of the sitting Conservative Councillor Julian Stanyer. The Conservative candidate this time was his daughter Rowena Stanyer, who won 46%.

The Liberal Democrats didn’t stand, while Labour won 4%.

The ward of Speldhurst and Bidborough has 3 seats in total. Lucy Willis was elected for the Alliance in   the seat in 2019 (when she defeated the then Conservative head of the Council, David Jukes) while Harry Allen was elected for the Conservatives last May.

The seat also covers parts of Groombridge, Langton Green and Ashurst.

Turnout on Thursday was 34.7%.

NOVEMBER 2021 RESULT:

Matthew Sankey
Alliance 788 50% Elected
Rowena Stanyer Con 730 46% Not elected
Aleksander Klimanski Labour 65 4% Not elected

MAY 2021 RESULT

Harry Allen
Con 912 22% Elected
Julian Stanyer Con 860 21% Elected
Matthew Sankey Alliance 626 15% Not elected
Anne Backshell Alliance 486 12% Not elected
Clare Himmer Green 311 8% Not elected
Jeremy Stirling Lib Dem 290 7% Not elected
Martin Brice Lib Dem 246 6% Not elected
Millie Gray Labour 176 4% Not elected
Anne Musker Labour 174 4% Not elected

Back in May, the Conservative Party lost its overall majority on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council for the first time in twenty years.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) has put forward plans for thousands of houses in the Capel area, filling in much farmland between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood in order to meet central government housing targets.

Anger among local residents led to the Conservatives losing the seat of Capel in May to the Liberal Democrats who won 75% of the vote in that ward.

Tune to 95.5 and 106.7 FM for West Kent Radio

The first community radio station for Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells was officially launched onto the FM waveband on Thursday morning at 10.00am.

Station trustee Nigel Peacock said: “Launch day has been fantastic and we’ve been receiving lots of messages of support and requests to the studio and on our social platforms. It’s a great day for West Kent!”

The opening show was presented by Programme Controller, Chris Manser. On Friday, Isabella Matthews (pictured below) took her place behind the microphone at 4pm with her drivetime show.

wkr-isabella-matthews

West Kent Radio is a community radio station, which means it relies on volunteers to present programmes and local advertising to cover rent and other costs. Local businesses wishing to advertise can email:
sales@westkentradio.co.uk

There are two FM transmitters – one in central Tunbridge Wells on 106.7 FM and the other transmitter is on Bidborough Ridge pointing down to Tonbridge on 95.5 FM. Both signals can be received well on car radios in Southborough.

For indoor listening, owners of Amazon and Google smart speakers can say “Play West Kent Radio”. Alternatively, you can listen now by clicking this link:
https://www.westkentradio.co.uk/player/

studio-image-oct2021

300 areas in the UK now have volunteer-run community stations with many having been up and running for decades. But the broadcasting regulator OFCOM only approved West Kent Radio last year in one of the last batch of stations to be approved.

The station will carry local news every weekday morning at 7.30am, 8.30am and 9.30am. Plus there’s a local news update on weekday evenings at 4.30pm, 5.30pm and 6.30pm.

Weather is after the national news on the hour from 7am to 6pm. Travel news is throughout the week. A series highlighting local landmarks and walking routes is broadcast on weekdays at 8.50am and 4.50pm.

On Saturday evening, there’s a pure 60s show sponsored by Southborough Lions at 7pm. Local and national sport is covered live from 2pm to 6pm on Saturday afternoons.

isabella-2-1-1West Kent Radio output will include a variety of music from across the decades, plus the 10am to 1pm daily show will have live studio guests talking about topics of local interest including health and wellness issues.

Trustee Nigel Peacock added: “We are delighted that true local radio is now returning to the area. It is testament to teamwork and we are proud to be bringing this special service to our towns and villages. Radio is the medium which builds connections and enriches community. This is everyone’s radio for West Kent.”

Meanwhile, Programme Controller Chris Manser (pictured below on launch day) said: “Our team of volunteer presenters are keen to reach out to the local community and provide a platform to enable local good causes, charities and organisations to interact with us and the listeners to share their news and stories.  Over the coming weeks, months and years we hope it will develop and grow to reflect the community we live in.”

WKR Manser

You can get in touch with the live studio by emailing: studio@westkentradio.co.uk and on Facebook, twitter and instagram @westkentradio.

Official Opening of Southborough’s New Civic Centre

On one of the warmest sunniest Saturdays of the summer, Southborough’s new Civic Centre was opened by the town’s mayor, Dianne Hill, in a festive event attended by hundreds of local residents.

Dianne Hill delivered the following speech: “A big welcome to everyone from Southborough, High Brooms and beyond to a Festival celebrating our past, present and future. A Festival that is the first to take place in our new Town Square and in our new Civic Centre and Library.”

She continued: “I’d like to give a big thank you to everyone who has helped make this special day a success. In particular Southborough Street representing our amazing local businesses; Southborough SOS Group for their work making the Town clean and tidy for us; and all the other many groups that support our Town.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to Malcolm Clarke (Managing director), Graham Tuthill (project manager) and their team from Baxall Construction Ltd (pictured below with Greg Clark MP) who have been incredibly helpful and supportive delivering this building on time in extremely difficult circumstances. Thanks also goes to James and Bryn HMY architects.

“We also thank Kent County and Tunbridge Wells Borough Councils but the biggest thank you, goes to you the people of Southborough and High Brooms who have waited patiently for this project to be completed.

“We stand here in the centre of Southborough, so rich in history. Nearby are the ghosts of the Ridgeway secondary school, our much loved Royal Victoria Hall, the Bat and Ball and the Bell pubs, and here the site of our very first fire station.

“But it is not just about our past or our present. We all have a special job of looking after the future of our town. We have to protect our common and our green spaces, plant more trees, support our local shops and defend its character for the sake of future generations who will live here.

“Now, we are here to celebrate our community and the possibilities that this new beating heart of Southborough and High Brooms, will provide for all of us. Please take the opportunity to look around the Centre and enjoy the stalls and events laid on for you during the day.

“We have waited a long time to have our Town centre back. So let’s officially open this event and then the party can begin.”

The festive atmosphere was largely thanks to the huge efforts of Nell Price and Rebecca Clow in organising a large number of stalls – some selling refreshments and others displaying the work of local groups ranging from the Scouts to the Southborough Cricket Club.

Conservatives Lose Overall Majority on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

For the first time in more than twenty years, the Conservative Party has no overall majority on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, as counting today revealed opposition parties gained 5 seats in Thursday’s local elections.

Years of drama over the abandoned theatre project and controversy over a massive housebuilding plan for Capel has worn down the Conservative’s normally rock solid majority in the Borough.

The Conservatives now have exactly half of the council seats, which is 24 of the 48 members elected.

The Liberal Democrats won the seat of Capel, defeating the leading Conservative, Carol Mackonochie.

Save Capel

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) has put forward plans for thousands of houses in the Capel area, filling in much farmland between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood in order to meet central government housing targets.

The victorious Liberal Democrat in the Capel seat, Hugh Patterson (pictured below) won 75% of the votes and said on twitter that it was an “overwhelming victory on a huge turnout. TWBC – this a rejection of the Local Plan by the community most affected!”

TW Lib Dem Hugh

The turnout in Capel was 53%, which is the highest in the Borough emphasising the strength of feeling on the housing issue. The full result for Capel is below:

Hugh PattersonLibDem71775%
Carol MackonochieCon18720%
Christine SpicerGreen172%
Wendy DayLab162%
Christopher HoareUKIP162%

Below is some of the farmland near Five Oak Green that opponents in the Save Capel campaign are trying to preserve. 

Capel

There were 3 Liberal Democrat gains in all (Capel, Broadwater and Pantiles/St Mark’s), while Labour gained Rusthall and the local group, Tunbridge Wells Alliance Party, also gained one seat.

The Alliance defeated the Conservative councillor Barry Noakes, who had represented the Goudhurst & Lamberhurst seat for the past 13 years.  The victory was by just 28 votes.

But the Alliance candidate in the Speldhurst & Bidborough seat, the well-known restaurant owner Matthew Sankey, lost to the Conservatives, amid an even spread of votes to rival opposition parties. The full Speldhurst & Bidborough result (with two seats up for grabs) is below:

Harry AllenCon91222%
David StanyerCon86021%
Matthew SankeyAlliance62615%
Anne BackshellAlliance48612%
Clare  HimmerGreen3118%
Jeremy  StirlingLibDem2907%
Martin  BriceLibDem2466%
Millie GrayLabour1764%
Anne MuskerLabour1744%

The Borough Council opposition now consists of 13 Liberal Democrats, 5 Labour, 5 Alliance and one Independent Councillor.

Meanwhile in Southborough, there was no Borough Council voting in the north and west of the town but in the seat of Southborough and High Brooms, the incumbent Labour candidate Dianne Hill (below) triumphed with 52 % of the vote – the same share as the last election five years ago.

Dianne Hill now

Dianne Hill told Southborough News: “I love this community and I live here. I am really overwhelmed and so pleased and proud to be representing Southborough and High Brooms.”

SOUTHBOROUGH AND HIGH BROOMS MAY 2021
Dianne HillLab103352%
Nasir JamilCon57629%
Aqab Mehmood MalikLibDem1628%
Anthony HoskinGreen1508%
Christine MarshallUKIP482%

After some confusion on PA news service about the totals, here is confirmation of the current councillors and their names:

48 RESULTS 2021 24 13 5 5 1
    CON LIBDEM LAB ALLIANCE INDEP
3 Benenden & Cranbrook Dawlings     Warne  
    Holden*        
2 Brenchley & Horsmonden March*        
    McDermott        
2 Broadwater Cobbold LOST Hall WON      
    Woodward        
1 Capel Mackonochie LOST Patterson WON      
3 Culverden Scott Rands      
      Rutland*      
1 Frittenden & Sissinghurst Fairweather        
2 Goudhurst & Lamberhurst Hall        
    Noakes LOST     Knight WON  
3 Hawkhurst & Sandhurst Bland        
    Palmer*        
    Thomson        
2 Paddock Wood East Hamilton       Atkins
2 Paddock Wood West Bailey        
    Thomas (retd)        
    Hills NEW        
3 Pantiles & St Marks Scholes Hickey      
    Horwood (died) Fitzsimmons WON      
3 Park Atwood     Pope  
    Bruneau        
    White NEW        
3 Pembury Barrington-King     Hayward  
    Reilly        
    Roberts NEW        
2 Rusthall Podbury (retd) Funnell Britcher WON    
3 Sherwood Backhouse   Pound    
    Williams        
    Goodship NEW        
3 Southborough +HB     Everitt    
        Hill*    
        Lewis    
2 Southborough North Simmons Poile      
3 Speldhurst & Bidborough Stanyer*     Willis  
    Soyke (resigned)        
    Allen NEW        
2 St James’   Chapelard*      
      Wormington WON     Neave-LEFT
3 St John’s   Ellis      
      Lidstone*      
      Morton      
48 Total Seats CON LIBDEM LAB ALLIANCE INDEP
  *INDICATES RE-ELECTED IN EXISTING SEAT 24 13 5 5 1

Conservative Peter Oakford Wins His County Council Seat by Just 1%

The Kent County Council seat of Tunbridge Wells North – which includes Southborough – has been won by the Conservatives, with Peter Oakford narrowly holding his seat by just 80 votes, after many voters switched from the Liberal Democrats to Labour.

The Conservative lead over Labour was 35% to 34%, with an increased turnout from four years ago.

The Green party candidate, Anthony Hoskin, added to his tally from the last election, taking 11% or 611 votes.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have held their position in control of Kent County Council as a whole, with all 6 of the Tunbridge Wells area seats staying Conservative.

Cllr Oakford (below) was voted off the Borough Council two years ago but is still a powerful figure in the County Council as Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Corporate and Traded Services.

Peter-Oakford crop

The full results for Tunbridge Wells North (including Southborough) which had a 42 % turnout were:

MAY 2021
Peter OakfordCon2,04835%
Mike TappLab1,96834%
Aqab Mehmood MalikLibDem1,05718%
Anthony HoskinGreen61111%
Christine MarshallUKIP1272%
Total votes5,811

The results in 2017 were:

MAY 2017
Peter OakfordCon2,01742%
Martin BettsLab1,24826%
Marguerita MortonLibDem1,17225%
William O’SheaUKIP2154%
Anthony HoskinGreen1283%
Total votes4,780

The Borough Council results will be announced tomorrow with the Conservative overall majority in Tunbridge Wells in the balance.

Financial Boost for West Kent’s New Community FM Radio Station

The planned new West Kent Community Radio is today celebrating after being awarded almost £9,000 in National Lottery funding to buy the FM radio transmitters it needs to be able to launch its service later this year.

West Kent Community Radio evolved from Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells, an established hospital radio service which has been broadcasting radio programmes to local hospitals for the past 60 years.

WKR 2

The charity, which is staffed by more than 55 volunteers ranging in age from 22 to 77, was awarded an FM licence by OFCOM in March 2020 to provide a community radio service for Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Southborough and surrounding areas.

At present, West Kent Radio provides a 24/7 service which can be heard in our local hospitals, online and via Smart speaker and has continued to provide programmes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with many presenters operating from their homes to keep the station on air.

WKR 1

The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will enable the service to be expanded and broadcast on FM across West Kent.

Broadcasting as West Kent Radio, the station’s output will include a variety of music from across the decades, regular local news bulletins and information on local sporting and social events.

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It will host discussion programmes on topics of local interest to allow local people to engage with members of the County Council, town councils and residents and will provide a platform for local charities and support organisations to promote their services and enable local musicians to showcase their talents in live shows.

The charitable aims of West Kent Community Radio include the prevention or relief of sickness and the promotion of good personal mental and physical health, and broadcasting health education messages and advice in its programmes and hosting discussion programmes with health experts will help it to achieve these aims.

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The station will continue to broadcast request programmes for patients in local hospitals as it has done for the past 60 years and aims to expand the requests service into care homes and other healthcare locations.

Chris Manser, Trustee of West Kent Community Radio said: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to press on with our plans to launch our service on FM and by providing music, news, entertainment, sport and good advice we hope to enrich the lives of our listeners in West Kent.”

Caution And Hope After 80% Drop in Covid-19 Cases in February

The Mayor of Southborough has told residents he remains concerned about vulnerable members of the community just as the coronavirus restrictions are due to be slowly lifted in the coming months.

With schools due to reopen on Monday, official figures for Tunbridge Wells Borough show cases in February were 80 per cent lower than January. There were 286 new cases last month, compared with 1,736 in January.

Mayor Alain Lewis (pictured below) told Southborough News: “While we can be happy that the rate is going down, we still need to keep the measures in place to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable people. We also need to let the NHS and key workers do their job in treating us, vaccinating us and caring for us.”

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Cllr Lewis concluded: “We can have some optimism that better days are nearer.”

The very latest statistics are encouraging, with the most recent figure for the 7-day rolling average of daily cases in the Borough running at 6 new cases a day, having dropped from 100 new cases a day two months ago.

But the situation is still not as reassuring as last June and July when infections were only one new case a day, although testing was much lower at that point so many cases will have gone undetected.

Here is the graph for weekly case numbers per 100,000 of population in the Borough of Tunbridge Wells:TW Feb

Here is the graph of the weekly case numbers per 100,000 of population in Tonbridge and Malling Borough:

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The figures record a total of 227 deaths from Covid-19 in Tunbridge Wells Borough and 259 in Tonbridge and Malling, based on information on death certificates.

Below is a reminder of the possible dates announced by the government for the reopening of the economy:

March 8th Schools reopen
March 29th Up to 6 people can meet outdoors
March 29th Outdoor sports resume
April 12th Hairdressers, pub gardens & gyms reopen
April 12th UK self-catering holidays possible
May 17th International travel may restart
May 17th Pubs can seat customers indoors; Cinemas & theatres at 50%
June 21st Nightclubs open & event limits end