Courier 15 March 2002 - LETTERS section Page 35

Our enemy is complacency

Barbara Clarke set me the challenge of reshaping our town last week into one "which we would all be proud" (Courier, March 8). As she points out this is primarily the responsibility of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, but I understand her point. Tunbridge Wells is a fine traditional spa town with a rich heritage. It is the major financial and marketing service centre for West Kent and East Sussex. It has strong business links and as such, unemployment remains negligible.

It is well-known for its good schools and skilled workforce. We have excellent shops, both multiples and small local traders. We are an attractive tourist centre surrounded by beautiful villages and countryside. We are within easy reach of London and the Channel Tunnel. Tunbridge Wells is a competitive place to do business and an attractive place to live.

But in the past 25 years the town has developed beyond all recognition. As the population has grown the town has sprawled and we have built more houses on greenfields, in Paddock Wood and around our villages. Yet there has been precious little investment in our infrastructure, in our transport, education and healthcare. The hospital is split between two sites with doctors and nurses doing their best in decaying old buildings.

Far too many of our schools are at their limit of capacity and operating out of temporary classrooms.

The A21 is a series of bottle-necks and in large part a dangerous single lane country road, much as it was 50 years ago with 10 times the traffic. The railway probably provided a better service then than now.

That is why I see my priority as your MP to campaign for investment on the A21, in the new hospital, in the railway and on school buildings.

We pay a lot of tax but have not had our fair share of money back. And that is why I am opposed to further housebuilding on our greenfields in places like Hawkenbury, whatever the pressures from central Government.

Tunbridge Wells still is a place people want to live. We have much to be proud of. But we also have substantial local problems and areas of poverty even in the midst of a comfortable town.

I agree with Barbara Clarke that we should have a vision of a spa town like Harrogate or Bath of which we can be proud.

But for too long local people have settled for a lack of investment and increased congestion.

Our greatest enemy is complacency.

Archie Norman
House of Commons

08.03.02 - The Courier: "Archie, reform the Council"

A guide through Tunbridge Wells Local Press since August 2000 - "The Telephone House Debacle"

The support of Archie Norman, MP for Tunbridge Wells
in connection with the Telephone House development