A rousing speech from a former mayor, Richard Blackwell, began the historic final council meeting of Southborough Town Council to be held in its building in London Road, which is about to be demolished to make way for the Hub.
Richard Blackwell (pictured below) served on Southborough Council for 31 years from 1972, and his speech drew applause from councillors of all parties. This revised report ends with 2 new links to video highlights of the historic meeting.
Mr Blackwell said: “It is probably 140 years since the Local Government Board met here. It was the meeting room in which the first Urban District Council met. I was privileged to be the mayor at our centenary in 1994 when we celebrated with a magnificent carnival through the town, a church service and a flypast.”
He pointed out that Southborough goes back to the 12th Century and is therefore older than Tunbridge Wells. He remarked: “One of the saddest days was in 1974… when we lost the autonomy we had as an Urban District Council. The old council built 850 social homes in this town. They built a magnificent park, Pennington Grounds. They claimed the common for the people of Southborough – people thought at the time that £10,000 was a lot of money for a piece of land. What a treasure it is today!”
Here you can watch Richard Blackwell’s speech in full :
He continued: “Sadly we have lost too much in this town. We have lost our secondary school, our police station, our ambulance station, three banks, two building societies. One wonders what we are going to lose next. But it is up to you friends, as the representatives of this council to fight for this council. We have to put politics aside, put people first and have a vision.”
Mr Blackwell, who last year dubbed the new Southborough Hub a “plastic lunch box” concluded: “We have lost the argument as this building and next door is coming down, but always hold before you that we want the very best for our generations which are to come in this town but never forget the debt we owe to those who worked in this chamber.”
Councillors posed above for a final photo in their old home.
At the meeting Councillors rejected a motion to start work on a neighbourhood plan for Southborough to try to influence the planned major housing development that the current government plans for the whole of south east England. Paddock Wood has apparently decided to consult local people on a plan, but Cllr Oakford said doing so in Southborough might duplicate efforts being made by the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.
Below are 20 mins of video highlights from the historic meeting in the old venue (above) which I filmed, edited and then uploaded to YouTube. If you care about where you live and its future development, do take a look. Regrettably, I will not have the time to make every meeting transparent in this way, so please do make time to watch these speeches from the people that represent you. Everyone who spoke is shown speaking.
Here is the second part:
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Developers wanting to build housing on the section of the Ridgewaye fields that is raising the money to build the Hub and the demolish the Royal Victoria Hall and council offices are being invited to bid for the land. Applications through Bracketts of Tunbridge Wells: