Sun Shines on Ridgewaye Fun Day

Antonia Francis (below) was one of the stars of the 2017 Southborough Family Fun Day as she vividly discussed with curious onlookers her days on the road with her beautifully preserved Austin Seven Ruby Classic Car.P1110413

She explained how she had twice driven from Land’s End to John o’Groats in the car – a distance of 874 miles.  The Austin Seven is the same age as her, having been built in 1935.

P1110412

Antonia also drove round Ireland in 1994, where her only problem was a puncture, which was mended by a Irishman who never stopped talking, clearly excited by having never mended a spoke wheel before. She said she often slept in the car on her tours, removing the passenger seat and putting in a plank of wood resting on the back seat and adding some foam and a sleeping bag.

P1110409

The car has no indicators or hazard lights, which makes it somewhat unsuitable for motorways. But there is no car tax payable on classic cars and Antonia pays just £42 a year in insurance, fully comprehensive.

She says 1935 cars were built to withstand rust much better than later models in the 1960s and 1970s. Many other classic cars were also on display at the event. (see below)

P1110399

P1110397.JPG

The Fun Day, which is held every year on the Ridgewaye Field in aid of funds for the local Sea Cadets, was blessed with warm sunshine and hundreds of people attended. Southborough Town Council provide the use of the field and other facilities free of charge for the event.

P1110396.JPG

Also on display was a Ferret armoured car (above), also called the Ferret scout car, which is a British reconnaissance vehicle produced between 1952 and 1971. It is currently used by the Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School Cadet Force.

P1110395.JPG

There was also a selection of classic pumping engines (see above) with one cleverly linked to a tap gushing water that appeared to be suspended in midair without support.

P1110406.JPG

Plus there was a marching band and other music which was heard throughout much of the Town.

P1110407The event was presided over by the Southborough mayor (below) Cllr David Elliot who scooted from one side of the field to the other on his electric bike.

P1110401.JPG

Advertisements

RVH Plasterwork Decorations are “Too Expensive” to Salvage

It has emerged that Southborough Council has made no plan to salvage the distinctive plaster decorative features next to the stage of the Royal Victoria Hall.

P1110346

The picture and the film below shows the state of demolition up to Sunday afternoon 14th May 2017.  It is understood that saving the plaster decorative features would require a tower to be set up next to the stage and that would be too costly and time consuming.

The demolition is being conducted by grabbing sections of the brickwork by machine and dropping them on a “soft area”. This is causing the bricks to be separated from the lime mortar, so allowing some of the red bricks to be reclaimed.

P1110355 v2

P1110351

Bus Firm Requests Cash From County Council Amid New Cuts and Higher Fares

Having already trimmed services at peak times last month, the Arriva Bus Company has just announced that its services that directly link Southborough with Bromley will end in July, unless it can get further Kent County Council funding.

Arriva is owned by Deutsche Bahn, which is the massive nationalised rail operator for all of Germany.

The route news was combined with new fare rises.  The all day bus travel ticket popular in Southborough will rise by 8 per cent from £ 4.80  a day to £ 5.20 a day.

Meanwhile, drivers remain unclear how services will be operated in the area once the firm’s Tunbridge Wells depot is sold for development in a few months time.

Bus map v2

Arriva’s statement said: “Arriva has been operating the 402 service between Tunbridge Wells and Bromley via Sevenoaks for many years. The service was previously reviewed back in 2011 and was deemed to be below viable patronage levels at this time, however Arriva agreed to delay any cuts to the service and explore the calls for service demand, which were expressed during the consultation process. Sadly 6 years on, the service remains under-utilised between Bromley and Dunton Green, and the Sevenoaks Weald loop, and as a result is unfortunately not commercially viable; these parts of the route will cease to operate from Sunday 23rd July, 2017. Arriva will retain and operate the 402 service between Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells”.

The statement concludes: “Arriva will continue to consult closely with Kent County Council, as the council may decide to review whether the service meets their criteria for support as a socially necessary service”.

Several bus users reacted to the latest bus news with dismay. Clare Wetz wrote on Facebook: “I’m regularly now waiting up to 30 mins for a bus. They also now leave stops early, meaning larger gaps in the service. Combined with high fares, It’s no surprise passenger numbers are dwindling!

Jeanette White wrote: “Just think, if all fares were a £1 anywhere any length of journey, so many more people would use the buses and they would make so much more money. Rather than run a bus that has one passenger on it paying £ 4.50, you could have a FULL bus of passengers paying £ 1 each!”

It has also been revealed that the”shopper hopper” fare from town to Sainsburys that was a £1 to use all day is now going to be £2.50 return.

Another factor irritating passengers is that the time allowed in the timetable for some journeys is now up to three times the actual time the journey takes. This means buses have to sit at stops for 5-10 mins waiting for their allotted departure times.

The evening 402 is timetabled to take 25 mins  to travel from Tonbridge Castle to the Arriva depot in Tunbridge Wells (from 2047 to 2113), when it would normally take less than ten minutes to cover the route at that time of the evening.

See more at:

Conservatives Promise to Publish Business Plan as Demolition Continues

The winner of last week’s County Council election for the seat comprising Southborough says he is “acknowledging feedback from the community” regarding the lack of information about how the new Hub development will pay for itself.

Peter Oakford told Southborough News that “as soon as the commercial negotiations are complete”  he would request that the financial information will be made public.

Meanwhile, the demolition of the frontage of the old Southborough Town Council Offices has begun. (Pictures from today below)

P1110329

P1110333

P1110327

Peter Oakford, who won 42% of the vote sent this statement to Southborough News: “I think all candidates participated in a strong and active campaign  which provided local residents with a sound platform to make their voting decision. ”

He continued: “With the election behind us I can now return to the issues I have been working on with the officers of both TWBC & KCC and which formed part of my election manifesto –
* improving road safety for all users,  especially around our local schools,
* Seeking to improve the traffic flow,  air quality and the condition of our local roads, especially the A26,
* Completing the Southborough town centre hub development  – while also acknowledging feedback from the community regarding the financial information which I will be requesting to be made public as soon as the commercial negotiations are complete.

Mr Oakford’s statement ends: “While I would very much like to thank all those that voted for me on May 4th I have been elected to represent all local residents and will continue to do so to the best of my ability”.

The Royal Victoria Hall, which opened in 1900 and was described as Britain’s “first municipal theatre” still stands with its red brick walls in place, but the roof removed.

P1110322

It is set to be replaced with a combined hall, library, cafe and medical centre building in polycarbonate cladding (example of polycarbonate cladding in London shown below):

trinity-laban

At the election, the combined voting share of the opposition Labour and Liberal Democrat parties was 51%.  The defeated Liberal Democrat candidate, Marguerita Morton, told Southborough News: “Of course I am disappointed by the result.  However, if you add the votes cast for Lib Dems and Labour, both of us were against the Hub in our different ways, you would have a majority for not building the excessively expensive hub with the early demolition of the town hall and RVH.”

Ms Morton continued: “I was extremely shocked to see the business plan did not contain figures for future income or expenditure, for that matter. So, we may have the demolition of a town hall and cherished theatre building without a replacement.  That is unacceptable.”

In a statement on Facebook, the Labour candidate, Martin Betts, said: “I take heart from the fact that we nearly doubled and significantly increased the share of our vote and that I came second. In other words we bucked the national trend.”

Mr Betts continued: “We will continue to say that there must be much better engagement between councillors and the people of Southborough and High Brooms. We live here and we will enjoy or suffer the long term effects of any decisions that councillors make. We are not children. We expect to be involved in developing the town’s future, to know the total cost, and what we will be expected to pay year on year into the future. We do deserve better”.

Conservatives win Southborough’s County Council Seat with 42% of vote

The man who has masterminded the radical new Hub development in Southborough, Peter Oakford, was reelected for another four year term by 42% of voters in the “Tunbridge Wells North” constituency in yesterday’s Kent County Council election.

The opposition to the Conservatives was split between Labour with 26% and the Liberal Democrat with 25%.  The UKIP vote collapsed in line with national trends.

Mr Oakford added 644 votes compared with his support in the same poll in 2013.   Labour added 576 votes and the Lib Dems added 506 supporters. Opposition parties pointed out the majority of voters (58 %) did not support the Conservative candidate.

Oakford win

Mr Oakford is pictured above on the left of the picture during the campaign, with our Westminster Conservative MP Greg Clark in centre right.

Turnout was a disappointing 35%.  In a comment on Facebook, a local Conservative colleague and Southborough Town Councillor, Ian Kinghorn, called the result: “a ringing endorsement of Conservative policies.”

The Labour candidate, Martin Betts, (below) told Southborough News: “I think there was a lot of anger about the demolition of the Royal Victoria Hall among our supporters in Southborough and High Brooms. We put a huge amount of work into leafleting. It was always going to be tough to win and I think it is a positive result for us given the national trend for Labour.”

Martin Betts final

The Liberal Democrat candidate, Marguerita Morton, told Southborough News: “Of course I am disappointed by the result.  However, if you add the votes cast for Lib Dems and Labour, both of us were against the Hub in our different ways, you would have a majority for not building the excessively expensive hub with the early demolition of the town hall and RVH.”

Ms Morton continued: “I was extremely shocked to see the business plan did not contain figures for future income or expenditure, for that matter. So, we may have the demolition of a town hall and cherished theatre building without a replacement.  That is unacceptable.”

Marguerita

Ms Morton (pictured above) concluded: “Many people, if not most, do want to “get on” with the development – not least our businesses, because the dilapidated look of Southborough town centre puts off visitors.  But this has to be considered alongside how the infrastructure of the town is going to cope with the extra traffic from the housing development.  I fear that this is not the end of the story but the beginning of a long drawn out fight between the governors and the governed under Tory rule”.

Here are the results with a comparison against the last vote in the same constituency:
TUN WELLS NORTH 2017 2017 Compared with 2013
Votes % % change Votes chg
P Oakford Con 2,017 42 +7 up 644
M Betts Lab 1,248 26 +9 up 576
M Morton LibDem 1,172 25 +8 up 506
W O’Shea UKIP 215 4 -20 dn 743
A Hoskin Green 128 3 -4 dn 134
Total Votes 4,780 up 849
Tunbridge Wells North County Council constituency stretches north to Bidborough and includes areas of St John’s that are not part of the Town Council area of Southborough and High Brooms (see below):

Tun Wells N Map