Courier 21 March 2003 Page 8: Editor's Column and Front Page

Kent and Sussex Courier - Editor: Giles Broadbent
Longfield Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 3HL, letter@courier.co.uk




Stating what we all know

NEWS ITEM:
An Audit Commission report has concluded that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's planning department is under-performing.

Just when Tunbridge Wells Borough Council tries to pick itself up and dust itself down along comes another boot to the stomach.
The latest criticism comes in another Audit Commission report, this time specifically targeting the beleaguered planning department.
Among other points, the commission says that it is slow, wastes money and shows little potential for a quick overhaul.
It has given the department one star and says its services are "fair" with "uncertain" prospects for improvement. It does say there are more positive points than negatives which is to be commended.

Readers of the Kent and Sussex Courier will not need an Audit Commission report to inform their own conclusions.
We have featured tales of frustration and woe connected to the council for many months now and some hard-hitting criticisms and recommendations have been put forward by professionals who use the council's service.

When one surveys the townscape, all around are pockets of evidence that there is something wrong at the heart of the development control services.

Indeed, the final nail in the coffin of the planning department may be struck home by critics-in-chief Kilmartin, champions of the rival site. If this development company goes ahead with a judicial review of the borough council, then its actions will be thrown open for all to see. Any claims of wrongdoing have yet to be proved but the rigours of an objective review may reveal more insights into the department than its bosses would wish.

What is most alarming is a continuation of the theme of an earlier Audit Commission report which was altogether more damning of the council as whole.
What emerged from that report - and is continued in the latest installment - is a lack of vision and leadership that has resulted in the council going about its daily business seemingly without direction.

The Audit Commission specifically commends the frontline staff but suggests they operate in a vacuum.
Chief executive Rodney Stone has re-issued his promise of better things to come. He has even suggested that staff may be axed in an effort to make the service more efficient.

Those dismayed by the authority will want to see speedy improvements across all its services before the first serious calls are heard demanding the sacrifice of bigger scalps than the ones currently under review.



and - The Courier 21.03.2003, Front Page,
By Ian Read - twellsreporters@courier.co.uk
"Council hit by criticism again - Official watchdog releases second damning report"



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"