Council Responds to Public Concerns About Southborough Hub Design

The Councils designing the Southborough Hub have responded to public comments and it appears the plans may be changed to incorporate a larger kitchen or bar.

A new planning application is scheduled to be submitted in November 2018 with an outcome early in 2019 prior to start on site in 2019.  Compared with the original plans, the new plan sees “a major reduction in circulation space within the building but keeps all other elements as closely aligned to the previous submission”.

Nov18 Hub Air A new document on the Southborough Town Council website written by the project manager, Jonathan White, explains that: “the new designs have shifted the main hub building to the north ensuring that the town square can be made larger and accommodate more activity.”

The following additional questions and answers from the council have been published:

Q: There is no café/bar in the new proposals
A: Internal designs are being considered which if approved, would move the kitchen area adjacent to the library space and include a hatch in to the library. This would allow for a café and a bar subject to operational requirements.

Q: The kitchen being proposed is too small!
A: Internal designs are being considered which if approved would enlarge the kitchen area

Q: Will there be a disabled toilet and a baby change area?
A: Yes, there will be disabled toilets on both levels of the Hub, there will also be a baby change facility

Q: Toilets are all unisex!
A: Toilets remain as individual cubicles that will be allocated as Male, Female, Disabled, and Unisex in a flexible arrangement to meet equality requirements and optimal operational efficiency.

Q: There are insufficient toilets to meet the current standards
A: The building meets the current toilet standard requirements

Hub Nov18 Gnd Floor

Q: Will the hub building be fully accessible for disabled people?
A: Yes, the building will be fully accessible and will meet part L and M of the building regulations

Q: There is no lift to the second floor of the main hub building
A: There is a lift to the second floor of the hub building and it can be found in the west wing of the main hub building adjacent to the stairs

Q: There is insufficient space in the facility for when there are large theatre performances
A: The space in the library will be used flexibly with bookshelves being able to be moved out of the way to accommodate for larger gatherings – the library and the theatre will work together to minimise any disruption to their clients

Q: There is no segregated room for children in the new library. Does this not raise child safety issues?
A: There will be a children’s area in the new library space but the service does not require them to be segregated. Library furniture can be used to give the area a more defined space for children. There are no child safety issues with this proposal

Q: How will the theatre work if the community rooms which double as changing rooms are already booked out?
A: The operator of the hub will ensure that the hall/theatre requirements and the rental of the community rooms can work in harmony to maximise the use of the facility (Second floor plan shown below – part of medical centre is to right of plan)

Hub Nov18 First Floor

Q: The noise from the theatre will impact the library area
A: Libraries are aware of the impact the theatre may have on their service and will work with customers to ensure any disruption is minimised

Q: If the building is open at night people will steal from the library
A: The library service are happy for people to use the self service machines out of hours to borrow books from the library even when staff are not present. Theft of library stock is very rare

Q: The community rooms have been shrunk from the previous designs
A: The new community rooms are larger than the previous designs at 141 square meters excluding storage compared to 81 square meters in the old designs

Q: Are the Theatre Trust comments being addressed?
A: The Theatre Trust has raised the same comments as they previous did for the prior submission and once again these are being picked up and a response has been sent to them. They are a statutory consultee as part of the planning process and we will continue to work with them to ensure the best outcome for the facility. They have also raised the issue of the café and that has been picked up separately within these FAQs.

Q: The community rooms have large glazed areas that will mean they are not suitable to act as changing rooms for the hall/theatre
A: The project will ensure that the necessary blinds are in place to give the privacy required.

Hub Nov18 Upper RmQ: There are insufficient changing rooms
A: The community rooms are very large and can be split up to provide further changing rooms if required

Q: The building will be built using timber and pre-fabricated panels. This sounds like a cost saving exercise and how long will the building last?
A: The design life of the product is over 60 years however if maintenance is done properly the building will last forever as with any other building which is well maintained

Q: Where is the storage?
A: There are numerous storage areas throughout the facility including a large store adjacent to the hall able to take the stage and seating

Hub Nov18 In TheatQ:  The hall can only accommodate 250 people. This is too small.
A: The hall can accommodate different setups up to 350 people

Q: What cladding is being proposed for the facility?
A: The cladding being proposed is a mixture of red terracotta cladding and a zinc based tile. There will also be some brick work at lower levels

Hub Nov18 First

Q: STC office is out of the way, not prominent enough and not accessible.
A: STC office location has been agreed by the Council and it is fully accessible

Q:  You have not consulted with anyone on the designs?
A: A list of consultation discussions over the whole period of the project is available on the STC website

Q: Will there be any disabled parking for the GP surgery?
A: Yes there will be two disabled spaces provided adjacent to the GP surgery, these are in addition to a further two spaces being provided on the Ridgewaye Car Park as well

Q: Parking is inadequate when football clubs are present
A: An additional 40 parking spaces are being provided adjacent to the recreational ground to reduce the parking issues. In addition to these, a further 19 car parking spaces will also be provided via an extension at the Yew Tree Road Car Park.

Q: Will the library have fewer books than before?
A: The library will have just as many books as before

Hub Nov18 In LibrQ: Can we please have another name than the Southborough Hub?
A: It is anticipated that prior to opening a name will be given to the facility

Q: Will the pharmacy be going in to the retail unit?
A: The partners are in negotiation with a number of potential tenants about who goes in to the space. The existing pharmacy in Southborough is not at risk from this development.

Q: Medical centre waiting area is too small.
A: The space being provided meets the NHS requirements

Q: There is no kitchen in the medical centre?
A: The space being provided meets the NHS requirements

Q: The building will cost Southborough lots of money to run and locals will end up subsidising it. When can we see the numbers?
A: The hub has a number of income streams notably from the GP surgery, retail unit, library and others which seeks to offset the running costs of the facility. The aim will be to ensure that STC are no worse off than they were before. The detailed numbers will be released once all agreements have been signed securing the income as doing so before hand would undermine the councils negotiating position.

Q: Why is there no air conditioning in the building?
A: Tinted glass, air handling units and large ceilings will ensure that air conditioning which is expensive to run and maintain will not be required.

Q: Who will run the centre?
A: The operations of the facility have yet to be agreed but will ultimately lie with Southborough Town Council with input from Kent County Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

Q: How much will the Southborough Hub development cost?
A: The total cost of the entire scheme including residential investment is c£30M. The Hub capital build costs are anticipated to be around £10M.

Q: How much did you get from selling the land to Crest Nicholson?
A: The sale value of the land has yet to be finalised as Crest are delivering part of the infrastructure works which will be offset against the land value once completed. Roughly speaking the land sale will pay for two thirds of the Hub buildings with the remainder coming from partners, grants and investment from the NHS.

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New Hub Images Released as Theatre Experts Warn of “Grave Mistake”

The latest images for how Southborough’s new Hub have been released, just as the national experts on theatre provision called the decision not to include a cafe in the complex “a grave mistake.”

The statutory advisory group Theatres Trust said it did not have confidence in the long term viability of the Hub based on the latest plans.

The new images have been on display at Southborough Library over the past week. The old library will be demolished when a new library is built together with a Hall/theatre, meeting rooms and medical centre in the new Hub (shown below).

Hub Nov18 First

Hub Nov18 Library

The view below is from the London Road looking south towards Tunbridge Wells with the new council meeting room overlooking the A26.

Hub Nov18 London Rd

The Theatres Trust have written to Kent County Council, who are overseeing the work on the Hub.  The Trust said: “We are increasingly concerned that the project is proceeding without a decision on who and how either the Hub as a whole or the theatre component will be operated.”

The Theatres Trust letter continued: “This is all the more important as the current proposals indicate that all front of house and back of house support facilities are to be dual use. There needs to be a clear vision about the purpose of this cultural facility and how it will be used to inform the design, layout, access and technical needs and also to ensure that this can operate effectively and serve as a viable and sustainable replacement to the Royal Victoria Hall”.

The Trust then says: “We strongly recommend the various parties involved in this project make that decision now and involve an operator in this design phase.” The latest ground floor plans are shown below:

Hub Nov18 Gnd Floor.jpg

The Theatres Trust notes that the planned capacity of the new theatre (shown below) has been reduced from 350 to 250 and it asks that “community groups are involved in this discussion to ensure that the auditorium size…is sufficient to allow them to cover the cost of the productions.”

Hub Nov18 In Theat

The Trust’s bluntest words are over the decision to reduce the costs of building the Hub by axing the original plans for a daytime cafe that could double up as a bar in the evening during theatre intervals.  It lists a number of places including Chester which have seen library usage rise strongly thanks to a neighbouring cafe.

The Trust says: “There is no provision except for a coffee machine within the library.  We feel that is a grave mistake….A cafe will help provide daytime animation to the building and entice people to spend more time in it….theatres reply on bar income as an important income stream and potentially undermining the viability of the venue.”

The Trust expresses concerns that the dual use of dressing rooms as committee rooms will create clashes, but it does welcome the addition of windows into the Hall to make it more attractive for daytime events.

The project team at Kent County Council have indicated they feel the involvement of officials from the Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall in the plans means that advice from local experts has already been taken into account.

Further images are shown below showing the library and medical centre looking north from ground level:

Hub Nov18 T & Medic.jpg

From the same point but looking right over the Ridgewaye fields:

Hub Nov18 Medic.jpg

This is the inside view of the library:

Hub Nov18 In Libr.jpg

The First floor plan includes two potential meeting rooms for Southborough Town Council:

Hub Nov18 Upper Rm

Hub Nov18 First Floor.jpg

This is the pavilion for the soccer club:

Hub Nov18 Soccer

Finally, a view from above:

Nov18 Hub Air

 

Southborough Hub: “Design is Great” says leading Conservative

The most prominent Conservative on Southborough Town Council has described the latest hub plans issued on Friday as “great” and perfectly meeting the design brief.

Councillor Peter Oakford (pictured below) who sits on Kent County Council, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Southborough Town Council also confirmed that space has been left for a retail unit to generate income for Southborough.

Peter-Oakford crop

In a statement to Southborough News, Cllr Oakford said: “Personally I think the design is great. With so many local authorities, NHS organisations and CCGs selling off under utilised buildings that they can not longer afford to keep, the new hub meets the flexible design brief perfectly.”

He continued: “Every element of the facility – other than the actual STC office – is a multi use flexible space that will ensure maximum utilisation of the building and therefore financial security and, as I have said before at no extra cost to the tax payers of Southborough and High Brooms.”

Cllr Oakford added: “The pharmacy is an idea at this stage, not anything that has been confirmed but would be a natural fit with the medical centre. The space is a retail unit which will be leased out by STC but the architect added the word pharmacy for demonstration purposes”.

Meanwhile there have been dozens of comments on social media about the new plans. Concerns include lack of news about the building’s outer cladding and appearance, lack of facilities for the type of theatre productions formerly held at the Royal Victoria Hall, a lack of a separated children’s library and a lack of a new formal public consultation before the designs go for planning approval. Others expressed their hopes for new modern facilities.

Southborough’s Hub Has New Shape

The Southborough Hub is to built with a rectangular footprint according to new plans issued to the public on Friday, with the previous “circle and two blocks” layout having been abandoned.

The new plans were outlined at a Southborough Town Council meeting on Thursday, although no artist impressions as to how the building will actually look are available. It is still not clear if brick, concrete or any form of plastic cladding will be used for the outer shell.

Although the plans for a cafe have been abandoned, a retail unit/pharmacy is still incorporated, which presumably it is hoped will yield some rental income for the council for its 94 square metres.

Southborough News has used photoshop to try to clarify the plans published on the Southborough Town Council website, colouring the new Hall in pink, the doctors’ surgery in yellow and the library section in green.  (see below).

Large Area blog

The new footprint appears to cover almost the same area as the Royal Victoria Hall before its demolition two years ago.

The dimensions of the stage in the new hall are given as 9.25 metres by 9 metres.  The total size of the hall is 342 square metres. Here is the ground floor in more detail:

Hall blog

The Hall’s changing rooms are located between the hall and the A26 which runs to the left on the diagram. There is a kitchenette shown which is 14.5 square metres, plus a workshop that is 26 square metres.

Dressing Rooms blog

The library is shown with views of an open space to the south with shrubs or trees and the A26 to the west. (see below)

library blog

This is the first floor plan published showing the location of two community rooms of 68 and 73 square metres, plus Town Council offices and a balcony to the Hall:

First Floor blog.jpgThe new scheme will require fresh planning permission.  The previous layout that went through the planning process two years ago is shown here at:

Overall plan

6 pdfs are available on the council website, with 3 of the Hub (all shown here) and 3 more detail the football pavillion.

New Look for Southborough Hub to be Unveiled Tonight

Southborough Town Council will meet tonight to be shown revised plans for the Southborough Hub development by Cllr Ian Kinghorn, who has told Southborough News that “these are exciting times for Southborough and we can at long last see the regeneration of Southborough”.

But Cllr Kinghorn (pictured below) confirmed that the revised designs must go back for planning approval, adding a further potential delay to the project. Meanwhile, the plan for a cafe in the Hub has also now been definitely dropped, something that would have yielded rental income for the council.

Kinghorn 18

The public are being encouraged to attend tonight’s meeting at Southborough School in Broomhill Park Road at 7pm, where the Council’s Conservative majority is expected to nod through the updated scheme, even though the new plans won’t be published in full until the day after the meeting.

It is now nearly two years since the original scheme to build a combined library, theatre, doctor surgery, football pavillion and home for the Town Council was passed at a planning meeting in Tunbridge Wells.  Councillors on the planning committee ignored a petition signed by 1,300 local people who wanted to save the Local Heritage Asset, the Royal Victoria Hall theatre, and argued most people in Southborough wanted something new in the town.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Southborough Town Councillor Ian Kinghorn said: “The re-design was never about starting the project again, it was about refining the current scheme that we already had and sticking as close as possible to what was already consented. To that end, I am pleased with what the architects have done and consultation with the public can now start and will be based on the planning process, with any further minor refinements happening once we receive feedback.”

The architect Ptolemy Dean (shown below), who lives in Wadhurst and co-presented BBC2’s popular “Restoration” series, said at the time the original planned Southborough Hub scheme was “poor”.

ptolemy_dean-2

Mr Dean, who serves on the National Trust Architectural Panel, told Southborough News two years ago: “Southborough has a rich architectural tradition. The proposed design might be anywhere, and would have been enriched by the retention of the existing historic building.”

There is speculation that the original plans to use plastic cladding on the new Hub may be dropped in favour of more traditional brick cladding.

The original design statement from Hub architects Pick Everard stated: “The local context fails to create an architectural vernacular for the centre of Southborough and therefore it is the aim of the Hub to establish a new vernacular. The material palette for the hub has been chosen to create a dynamic and active landmark for the centre of the town.” The planning meeting two years ago was shown the illustration below as an example of how the Hub would look.

facade

Wednesday’s update statement was issued by the Southborough Hub project board which is run by Kent County Council under the supervision of the 3 interested councils (Town Council, Borough Council and County Council) and said:

“The plans previously submitted and agreed by planners have had to be revised following cost increases that have led to the current consented scheme being over budget. The new plans reflect the previous aspirations for the facility and include a hall/theatre, community rooms, GP surgery, library, football pavilion and council facilities. Final sign off on the plans will be done by the Project Board…who will agree to submit the plans for planning approval and this will take place in the next few weeks.”

“The project has saved costs through predominantly cutting back on generous areas of circulation space which delivers little in terms of tangible benefits to the scheme. In addition the café has been removed as the business case for it no longer stacks up given the four cafes now open on the high street and the potential for a further one next door on the Crest Nicholson scheme. The facility will however consider meeting customer needs for a café via a high quality self-service machine and comfortable seating.”

There was criticism two years ago from theatre groups that used the original Royal Victoria Hall Theatre (shown below before and during demolition) that the new theatre would not have the facilities of the old building.

seats

stage

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But Wednesday’s statement insisted: “The hall remains as before, a flexible space able to accommodate up to 350 people with tiered retractable seating and the building will allow for multi-location pop up bars for use during events and shows. The community rooms and football pavilion have slightly increased in size to the benefit of the wider public. The GP surgery remains within the scheme as before but has had further input from NHS England. While progress continues to be made on this front, this area remains the last outstanding major risk to the project being fully funded and we are hopeful of securing the final funding elements within the coming months. ”

The original look presented to the Southborough public and planners is shown below.

hub-all

Wednesday’s statement from the project continued: “The previous design’s look and feel was very distinctive and would have made the building a clear landmark in Southborough. While this to a degree did contribute to some diverging local opinions, the Southborough based architects have made changes to ensure the new designs give a form and shape which is more traditional. They have also managed to create a larger square between the Hub and the housing by pushing the facility further north thus increasing the size of the public realm and accentuating the building and clearly defining it as a civic facility, surrounded by a suitably large civic space. “

“Work on site has now begun to put in the spine road, the parking, gas, water, drainage and electric connections for the Hub. Baxall have been appointed to deliver the main build and the engineering works on the fields are also now complete. The Council is also currently making good progress in negotiating heads of terms with the football club for their lease on the football pavilion and the club continues to improve on their fund raising target.”

Revised plans will be available from the 28 September onwards on the following website: http://www.southboroughcouncil.co.uk/southborough-community-hub/

History of Salomons Estate Explained in Heritage Open Day Tour

Around 60 people attended two days of group tours explaining the history of Victorian Southborough’s most famous family, the Salomons, as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days.

The Salomon Estate is now privately owned by the Markerstudy Group but under the terms of the donation of the house (originally to Kent County Council) by the last surviving member of the Salomon family, two rooms must be left open for the public to view memorabilia about three remarkable generations of Salomons.

Sir David Salomons, was the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London and one of the founders of what became NatWest Bank. He also made the first speech by a Jewish member of the House of Commons in 1851, despite not completing the oath of allegiance for an MP which at the time required adherence to the Christian faith.  The original bench he made that speech from is on display at the museum (pictured below).

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Hour long detailed and engaging talks were given by the museum curator, Chris Jones (pictured below), to the groups last Thursday and on Sunday.

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Sir David Salomons, who also campaigned for the political rights of other religious minorities, was succeeded to his title by his nephew, Sir David Lionel Salomons, who was a scientist, engineer, photographer and inventor.  Sir David Lionel owned the second car  in England in 1895. He succeeded in raising the vehicle speed limit above 4 mph.

Sir David Lionel built a “scientific theatre”, which is also usually available to visit if there are no private events there. The theatre (shown below) was equipped with one of the finest electrically driven philharmonic organs, which was restored by a Lottery Grant and is now the only one left in the world.

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Remarkably many of the original electrical fittings remain evident in the theatre.

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Sir David Lionel invented switches that used radio signals to control features in the theatre. It is preserved so well as it was essentially abandoned from the 1930s.

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Sir David Lionel’s only son, Captain David Reginald Salomons, tragically died during the First World War in the HMS Hythe disaster in 1915 that also saw around 100 other men from the area killed when the Hythe troop ship collided with another British vessel on a dark night off the Gallipoli peninsular in Turkey. Between the wars, the people of Southborough held a ‘Hythe Sunday’ on or around 28th October.

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Other notable features of the two room museum are shown below.  It is free to view. Among the exhibits are a piano, a 19th century fire bucket, a ceremonial wheelbarrow commemorating the Reading-Reigate Railway and a statue of Dick Whittington.

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NB This article was updated on 10.9.18 to correct the date of the second car  in England to 1895. The date of 1874 originally mentioned in my blog actually related to the development of a home-made electric tricycle, which David Lionel Salomons apparently abandoned as it was too much work to recharge the battery.

Campaigner Brian Dury Takes on Role as Southborough Society Chairman

Brian Dury, who led a successful campaign against a major supermarket development on playing fields in Southborough ten years ago, has issued his first message as the new Chairman of the Southborough Society.

Mr Dury (pictured below) said he wanted the Society to influence change in Southborough and attract new members.  He set out his vision for the Society in the Society’s printed summer newsletter which was delivered by hand on Monday to members.

brian-dury-2

Membership of the society has grown by 5% over the past year to 319 members in 217 households.

Mr Dury told members: “As a lifelong resident of Southborough, I am very honoured to hold this office…In June, the executive committee met for the first time under my leadership and we discussed what action we needed to take to continue to attract new members, particularly those with young families, many of whom are new to the area and are unaware of our existence.”

His message continued: “I am pleased to announce that Julie Levack has agreed to take on the task of School Liaison and will be looking to build connections with our two primary schools; if members have contacts that will support Julie in this role I will be pleased to hear from you.”

Mr Dury said he believed the purpose of the Society should be defined as a: “Society that is concerned with the very fabric of our community, maintaining a record of its history and how it changes over the years.  We seek to influence that change, through involvement in the planning process and in providing a focus for people to come together, to learn and share knowledge about our town’s past, present and future.”

Mr Dury was elected Chairman in May at the Annual General Meeting after the departure of the previous Chairman, Michael Howes (pictured below).

M Howes

Brian Dury offered thanks in his message to Michael Howes, who he said had “worked so very hard on behalf of the Society, initiated many new ideas and leaves office with a thriving organisation as his legacy.”

Mr Dury was a key figure in a campaign called Save Our Southborough which successfully blocked a plan to transform all the playing fields of the former Ridgewaye School into a giant Co-op supermarket.  Subsequently, around a third of that space was  lost to housing as a way of funding the Southborough Hub scheme.

Revised details of what the Hub will look like were due to be presented to Southborough Town Council this week. It will be built on the site of the demolished Royal Victoria Hall.

The Southborough Society’s next two events are:
8th September 10am-4pm: High Brooms History Exhibition at St Matthews’s High Brooms
8th November 8pm: Talk on women who fought for the vote by Anne Carwardine in Christ Church Hall, Southborough

The Society is also participating in Heritage Open Days from Sept 6 to 16th, where historic places normally closed to the public are thrown open to visitors. See:
http://www.tunbridgewellsheritageopendays.org

The Society’s new website is promised in the coming days and will be at:
https://www.southboroughsociety.org/

Voters Revolt Over Conservative Council’s Plans for £80 million Debt

New doubts have been placed on the Conservative Council’s plans to take out a huge loan to build a new civic centre and theatre in Tunbridge Wells after two defeats for the Party in Thursday’s Borough Council elections.

While the Southborough votes followed usual trends, Nick Pope (pictured below) of the newly formed Tunbridge Wells Alliance Party stole the limelight by defeating his Conservative opponent in Park Ward.

Nick Pope crop

Mr Pope had been a vocal opponent of the plan approved by the Council last December to take out a £77million loan to build a brand new Town Hall and Theatre.

The loan would represent £ 1,600 of new debt for every household in Tunbridge Wells and mean that the council tax will have to absorb £60 per household per year in interest payments on the loan.

One of Southborough North’s Conservative Borough Councillors, Joe Simmons, held an informal referendum in October in which 80 per cent of voters were against the scheme.

Mr Simmons (pictured below) voted against his own party’s Civic Centre plans in December and held onto his seat in Thursday’s election with 51% of the vote in Southborough North.

Simmons crop

Meanwhile in the Southborough and High Brooms ward, Labour’s Alain Lewis (pictured below) was victorious with 62% of the vote.

A Lewis crop

The Conservatives’ second setback came in St John’s ward where Nasir Jamil dropped into third place, with victory for the Liberal Democrats’ Mark Ellis who took 47% of the vote.

SOUTHBOROUGH NORTH:

Joe Simmons Conservative 614 51% Elected
Trevor  Poile Lib Dem 354 29% Not elected
Martin Betts Labour 247 20% Not elected

SOUTHBOROUGH AND HIGH BROOMS:

Alain Lewis Labour 1094 62% Elected
Harry  Allen Conservative 455 26% Not elected
Marguerita Morton Lib Dem 211 12% Not elected

PARK WARD:

Nick Pope Tunbridge Wells Alliance 773 34% Elected
Catherine Rankin Conservative 630 28% Not elected
Rachel  Sadler Lib Dem 533 23% Not elected
Hugo Pound Labour 335 15% Not elected

ST JOHN’S WARD:

Mark  Ellis Lib Dem 1038 47% Elected
Bjorn Simpole Labour 599 27% Not elected
Nasir Jamil Conservative 575 26% Not elected

The new make up of the 48 member Borough Council would appear to be:
Conservative 41 (down 2)
Lib Democrat 4 (up 1)
Labour 2 (unchanged)
Tunbridge Wells Alliance 1 (up 1)

Eleven Conservative Councillors failed to support their own party’s Civic Centre/Theatre plans when they were voted on last December.

The newly-formed group opposed to the Civic Centre loan, Tunbridge Wells Alliance, failed to win the six other Borough Council seats they contested, although the group did win significant shares of the vote (between 15% and 32%).

The Conservatives came close to a third defeat when in BROADWATER they won by just 8 votes after a recount. Result below:

Chris Woodward Conservative 479 39% Elected
Christoper  Hall Lib Dem 471 39% Not elected
Louise Reid Labour 213 17% Not elected
Alan Elder-Brown UKIP 59 5% Not elected

New Cheap Bus Fare After 7pm Launched

In a new effort to increase use of bus transport and reduce pollution and congestion, Arriva have launched a new £1.50 single bus fare for travel in the Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells area after 7pm.

The fare is an extension of a successful trial by Arriva in Maidstone, where the cheaper evening fare increased passenger numbers.  The fare begins today (Sunday 29 April).

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Oliver Monahan (pictured below) said: “This is just the latest in our sustained and continuing programme of improvements for our customers in west Kent and efforts to attract more people to our network of buses”.

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Mr Monahan continued: “This allows that visit to family and friends, drinks after work or late night shopping.” Full details are on the Arriva app or at www.arrivabus.co.uk.

Arriva Tonbridge Network Map April 2018

The evening weekday services eligible from Tonbridge Quarry Hill Parade stop to Tunbridge Wells will be:

1902m, 1913, 1929m, 1943, 1959m
2013, 2029m, 2059m
2159m
2259m

The evening weekday services eligible from Southborough to Tonbridge are:

1902m, 1910, 1941m
2007m, 2037m
2107m, 2137m
2237m

m indicates 7 bus to/from Maidstone; otherwise 402 to/from Sevenoaks

 

Greg Clark MP Sees “Sense of Optimism and Confidence” at Bus Depot Opening

Southborough’s Member of Parliament, Greg Clark, was at the new Arriva Bus Depot in the North Farm Industrial Estate on Friday to declare the site officially open.

Mr Clark (pictured below right) made a speech to bus workers and local councillors, telling them: “The new logo, the brightness of the new vehicles, the livery and the vehicles themselves I think gives a real sense of optimism and confidence in the company, the industry and the community that you serve.”

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Mr Clark said he was grateful for the continued and expanding presence of Arriva in the area after the closure of the St John’s depot.  He predicted: “There is an incredibly bright future for buses here.”

Mr Clark also praised the approach of the Arriva management team: “In every respect, from listening to the public, getting out there to make sure the show goes on even when the weather is rough, to investing in the future in apprenticeships to making sure we have of some of the smartest vehicles anywhere in the country.”

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Mr Clark is pictured (above right) shaking hands with Arriva’s Area Managing Director, Oliver Monahan. Mr Monahan told Southborough News he was “excited that the investment programme had been delivered so we now have the punch we need to deliver great services.”

When Mr Monahan took his current role, there was a real risk of Arriva being forced out of the area, as the site they had agreed to move to had been withdrawn by the developers who had opted to sell the land for housing instead.

Mr Monahan said: “When I joined in March 2017, we had to vacate St John’s Road on 1st October. We had to buy a new site, secure legal process, all the conveyancing and get planning permission and built out. That involved us living in a field for a few months.”

P1130690Mr Monahan appealed for more people who do have the option of going by car to take the bus instead, pointing out that buses remove congestion as each double decker vehicle can take 70 cars off the road, helping speed up ambulances, delivery trucks and other road users.

He continued: “When we are driving we have to focus on driving, but when you are on the bus you can listen to your headphones, read the paper, take notes or just clear your mind.” Mr Monahan also held out the prospect of cheaper promotional fares  for evening journeys to increase bus usage.

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Mr Monahan said customers will notice much cleaner buses with the state of the art bus wash, which is a vast improvement on the hosing down washes in the old depot.

P1130681The new depot will be open to the public for a “Family Fun Day” on 27th May. The depot is on the 277 bus route from Tunbridge Wells further down the road next to John Lewis. A special shuttle service will run from the end of the road (Kingstanding Way) to the depot.

Mr Clark said one of the things he was most excited about was “meeting the apprentices on the site, learning their trade maintaining these fantastic vehicles.”

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