Reduced Bus Fares: £2 Single Ticket to Continue

The government has extended the trial bus fare subsidy scheme to the end of June.

Thanks to government support, the £ 2 maximum single fares apply on Arriva’s routes 7 and 402 connecting Southborough with Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.  (A list of route exceptions is at the end of the blog.)


Meanwhile, there is still no prospect of an improved route for cyclists trying to travel between Tonbridge and Tonbridge Wells.

The latest episode of the podcast, West Kent Talking, has just been published. It outlines the obstacles to efforts to get people out of cars and so alleviate the continuing road congestion that costs so many local people time and money.

There is apparently not enough funding available to build the segregated cycle routes that would encourage a big switch to cycling. Meanwhile the scheme to impose 20 mph limits on traffic speeds in Tonbridge in an effort to make streets safer got a mixed response from the public.

In this podcast, Martin Webber discusses the big local transport issues with the man responsible for the area’s roads, David Brazier of the Conservatives who’s Kent County Council’s cabinet member for Highways and Transport. David Brazier tells us why he thinks a cycle route within the existing A26 road width would be unsafe, while the idea of a new cycle route parallel to the A26 (on the fringes of farmland between Southborough and Tonbridge) would be unaffordable.

Plus you will hear from the Liberal Democrat’s Peter Lidstone, who is the cycling and walking champion in Tunbridge Wells. And finally listen to the ideas of Adrian Berendt, who works for the national group Campaign for Better Transport and who’s also vice-Chair of the Tunbridge Wells Town Forum. Adrian Berendt believes a new A26 segregated cycle lane is possible and would benefit the 7,000 children who attend schools along the A26 in the St. John’s area.

You can listen on Apple Podcasts or use this link to Spotify podcasts:

The following Arriva routes are excluded from the £2 single fares:

286 Coleman’s Hatch – Tunbridge Wells
531 Noah’s Ark – Weald of Kent School
582 Tunbridge Wells – Hugh Christie Technology College
771 Weald of Kent School – West Malling
772 Weald of Kent School – Hadlow
773 Hayesbrook School – West Malling
774 Bennett Memorial School – West Malling
775 Bennett Memorial School – Kings Hill
776 Tunbridge Wells – Hadlow
77X Weald of Kent School – West Malling

BBC Strike Over Local Radio Cuts Takes Regional TV News Off Air

A 24-hour strike by BBC staff in Tunbridge Wells began today as journalists protested about cuts to local radio which will see BBC Radio Kent’s most popular show face the axe.

The dispute is over changes proposed by BBC bosses in November which will see Radio Kent share much of its output with neighbouring BBC local stations serving Sussex, Surrey and Greater London.

Due to the strike, the widely watched BBC half-hour evening regional TV news programme, South East Today, was replaced on Wednesday with an edition of Garden Rescue.

Garden rescue

Under the cuts, BBC Radio Kent will be left with only two unique programmes on weekdays, while all its weekend output (apart from sport) will merge with nearby stations. 

That is likely to mean the end of Radio Kent’s most listened to programme, Sunday Gardening, which runs from 10am to 2pm and is presented in Tunbridge Wells by long term staff member, Andy Garland.  Almost all existing staff including Andy Garland (pictured below) have been placed “at risk of redundancy”.

Andy Garland 3a

Southborough News spoke to staff on the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) picket line outside the BBC Tunbridge Wells studios this afternoon who all feel the planned changes will mean that BBC local radio will be less effective at covering local news and issues.

The NUJ representative for Radio Kent and Online at BBC South East Bob Dale told us: “We think the audience of Kent deserves a proper local service.  That’s what they pay their licence fee for.  Something like Netflix is good for drama but its not going to tell you how much your council tax is going up by.”

Bob Dale continued: “We’ve had protracted negotiations with management on this.  There’s been no movement. The programme sharing ideas are still on the table, so that’s why we’ve had to take this unfortunately drastic step of coming out on strike for 24 hours.” 

Bob Dale said there was no sign of compromise with management.  He told us: “There were talks on Monday but there was no movement on the plans to share local programming. That’s the red line. That is what’s caused this dispute. “


Local radio is still going out on Wednesday evening but without many of the usual presenters.  The 6.30pm local television local news programmes came off air across England. The strike ends at 11am on Thursday. 

Under the management plans, many radio roles will be repurposed as jobs writing online stories.

A BBC spokesperson said on Wednesday: “We are obviously disappointed that the strike has gone ahead. We have a plan to modernise local services across England – including more news journalists and a stronger local online service – which will see no overall reduction in staffing levels or local funding.”

“Our goal is a local service across TV, radio and online that delivers even greater value to communities. We will continue to engage with the trade union and do everything possible to minimise the impact on staff.”

Outside the BBC Tunbridge Wells office, Bob Dale of the NUJ indicated that people passing the picket line had been supportive.  He said: “There have been a few people honking horns. A lot of people don’t realise what’s been proposed and we’ve been able to tell them. Most people have said we want to keep our local services.”