Courier 2 May 2003 Letters




New broom through town and borough
Street cleaning, policing and apparent lack of concern upset residents


Crying out for a sense of direction

So, Rodney Stone, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's chief executive and Best Value officer thinks he has taken decisive action, does he ? (Courier, April 25 - 2003 )

He's going to sack six people and reduce a layer of management in a "long overdue reorganisation".

Who has always had responsibility for this long overdue reorganisation?
Who is responsible for the six post-holders suddenly identified as surplus to requirements?
Who should be shaping the council to meet our needs but dithers around, fiddling on the periphery, wasting our money, doing nothing?

Leadership is principally about providing purpose and inspiration. If I went down to the town hall and asked: "Is Rodney Stone the most purposeful and inspirational leader it has ever been your pleasure to work for?", how many would say: "Yes he is"?
Purpose means having a sense of direction, a set of goals or an objective. Mr Stone has neither created nor helped to develop a strategy for this council in all the time I have been reading about him.
Inspiration means taking people with you, giving them a sense of self-confidence that they can achieve something. Mr Stone neither creates nor generates confidence in his staff, nor, I suspect, in many of the town's residents.

Tunbridge Wells is a beautiful, historic, energetic, intelligent town crying out for a bit of "oomph" - some drive, a sense of direction. Mr Stone seemingly cannot meet the need. He should resign or be asked to.

Hugo Pound
Court Road Tunbridge Wells



May I suggest that the axe that is falling on top jobs at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (Courier, April 25 - 2003) commences with chief executive Rodney Stone.

The buck should begin at. the very top where the inefficiency originates.

Since September 2002 I have been writing to him concerning the deplorable condition of Grove Hill Road and the neglect of the surrounding area. I have yet to receive the courtesy of a reply. His secretary replies each time to advise me he is either on annual holiday or sick leave.

Brian Fsher
Grove Hill Road Tunbridge Wells



I agree with Tom Tice's letter, (Courier, April 25 - 2003) on increased council tax charges. We are paying more for fewer services of questionable quality.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's main concern is focused on the town centre for the benefit of visitors or tourists. Travel to the outskirts and what do we get? Graffiti, potholes in the road, uneven pavements, overgrown grass verges and weeds between the flagstones.

Then there is the matter of policing. The local force have had a greatly increased budget but do not appear to be patrolling the streets as in other towns.

Our council tax has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. How is it that Westminster and Wandsworth can levy 570 and 584 respectively for a band D property, half that of Tunbridge Wells.
I understand that in 2005, all properties. will be reassessed so that we can expect to move up a band or even two bands.
How will people on fixed incomes find that extra money? Especially since the council tax will inevitably rise between now and then. The time for sitting back and taking all this meekly is over. We protested over the poll tax. Judgment day is not so far away.

Anne Mason
Andrew Road Southborough



Never in the field of human taxes was so much owed by so many to so few for so little in return. I am 70 years old and have lived in this town most of my life, and have never seen the area so run-down and filthy, riddled with pot holes in the roads.
Hilbert Road is a classic, but is not on its own, they are everywhere you like to drive. In St James Road recently there, was a motorised road sweeper whcih drove straight down the road, with a man on foot carrying a broom. Neither picked up any rubbish at all; it was strewn all over the place.
In Dudley Road and York Road, two men with long-handled brooms swept the entire two streets, reaching, under the vehicles, further to this, a civic warden placed all rubbish bags from the footpath on a resident's steps.
On inquiring about these actions I was told the area was under the noses of the Town Hall. May I ask Tunbridge Wells Borough Council why areas around the Town Hall, Mount Pleasant, Pantiles, Calverley Grounds, Dunorlan Park are so well-maintained and clean, and the rest of us in the perimeter around the town centre can do with substandard services? Dunorlan Park - 2 million spent - and Grosvenor Park looks like a landfill site. I could fill pages with discrepancies.

I have always understood the principles that local people were elected to form a council to deal with local issues and carry out local services.
The council we have is arrogant and pompous and above themselves. Anything goes wrong they blame all and sundry, they hide behind central government's directives, European Union and Kent County Council - even Joe Bloggs himself.
May I remind this council, they hire contractors and if they are not up to the job, don't blame them, get rid of them.

We are required by law to pay local council taxes, which this year have rocketed. People are not interested in glossary statements (at our expense) - they want to see men with brooms in their hands (who actually use them), maintained and safe local roads. In other words, a vastly improved standard of services in return for that vastly raised council tax.

My last word on this council, if they will not, or cannot run our town properly, maintain and service it, then the whole lot should stand down and let the residents elect a new council. I, of course, refer to a new broom through all the town and borough, not just a clean sweep in the Town Hall area.

N F Keeble
St James Road Tunbridge Wells



After the Telephone House Public Inquiry, during summer/autumn 2001 :
The attitude of TWBC Chief Executive and Director of Operational Services towards Residents

What went wrong with the Telephone House Planning Applications ?
The uneasy questions to the Chief Executive Rodney Stone and other senior officers of TWBC

2003, the questions are still unanswered - they are as intriguing as in 2001.
April 2002 - CALA Homes bought this planning application.
With an ever increasing awareness of the flaws in the design? - Foundations for sustainable and viable development?

A guide through Tunbridge Wells Local Press since January 2003 - "Failing Council under Scrutiny"