January 2020, a new decade and at time of writing, (the day before our momentous Election), who knows where we will be or going. And even afterwards the election will we know? What we do know is that for our parish there will remain much to do and, politics aside, climate change will most certainly be an ever greater factor in our individual and collective decision making. So, here’s to a better future for which your councillors will continue to strive and although easily forgotten, in this parish without remuneration.
Top of our priorities as a council and community will be the completion of our Goudhurst and Kilndown Neighbour Development Plan. The final draft has now been approved by the Parish council and will now go to the Borough, inspection and review by an Inspector, then finally back to the parish community for a Referendum. If passed this document will form an integrated part of the Tunbridge Wells Borough Plan and will be the guideline for them to follow. On a related matter Chairman attended the recent Kent Association KALC meeting of the Tunbridge Wells Parishes and amongst the matters discussed was “The Tunbridge Wells Agreement”. This document sets out the commitment by the Borough to advise and consult with parishes on matters which may affect them. A worthy document which we felt had no teeth, especially on planning matters, for whilst they are obliged to consult, they have no need to pay heed to the parish advice but more importantly they have no requirement to tell us when they don’t. We are pressing for an amendment to ensure that we are advised, also where they do not intend to follow up planning breeches with enforcement. We will see how we get on, for without these amendments, the TW Agreement was felt to be worthless.
Parish priorities include as always Highways, traffic, HGV’s and the A21, A262. On the issue of the speed limits and the numerous accidents on the bendy single carriage stretch on the A21 south of the Lamberhurst dual carriageway, despite a three-year campaign we have made little progress so far with Highways England, the police or anyone else. Their priority remains to maintain a higher speed limit in spite of numerous serious accidents. So a new tack is called for and we are examining the possibility of engaging directly with the newly elected MP’s for Tunbridge Wells and Hastings all of whom have proclaimed their interest in upgrading and improving this vital road link bringing in also Highways England and other interested parties to a workshop and death defying walkabout to concentrate their minds.
To which other matters requiring attention we must unfortunately add drugs. Sadly, the ever-widening curse of drugs has indeed moved beyond the far away cities into our rural villages and sadly that would seem to include central Goudhurst. We are taking steps that the problem remains an acorn and are in discussion with community leaders, the police and are reviewing our CCTV surveillance coverage to track and contain the problem.
Superfast Fibre Broadband schemes continue to make progress in Curtisden Green, Goudhurst, Priors Heath and Kilndown where four separate submissions have been submitted to Openreach and the first estimates received. We are hopeful that this will lead to a huge improvement in broadband reception in the promised next twelve months.
The Children’s Play Area by the Church Rooms on Back Lane has been a focus of interest and concern over the past year. Partly an issue of past ownership (it has only recently been under parish council responsibility), partly the consequence of age and lack of previous maintenance, required council to remove equipment now deemed dangerous. We are delighted that as a result of the concerted efforts of a number of parents and their very well organised public consultation, your parish Council has been able to agree the way ahead and opted to go with what happened to be the most supported, if somewhat costlier option. Council has allocated funds in the current and next two years to kick start the introduction of new play equipment. However, supporters plan an independent fundraising among the community to move the project forward more quickly. Thank you and well done all.
Not everything goes according to plan and the weather which now refuses to be planned is no exception. The so-called British weather was somewhat predictable, but it seems so no longer. The restoration of the playing area of the Glebe Field has started but it needs a dry spell and some warmer weather before we can continue. Hopefully all will be ready in the spring and we will have a great Fete in June, but can we be certain? We are considering options.
Council has continued its consultation with the business community to plan and coordinate better support for the businesses in our community, especially retail and hospitality. We are planning a get together/workshop for early in the new year to hear everyone’s ideas and see how the Council can help and coordinate. We are very fortunate in our shops and businesses but must nurture and use them for that to continue. If you have a business in the community, please join us at the regular monthly meeting of the Business and Communication group and bring your ideas.
Goudhurst in Bloom has been a growing success in recent years, under the organising efficiency and enthusiasm of Angela Broom. She has taken on new responsibilities in the wider community and unfortunately cannot continue for 2020. If you would be interested to take on the organisation of this interesting project please call our Clerk, Anthony Farnfield on 01580 212552.
Your Parish Councillors … David Boniface, Craig Broom, Chris Ditton, Alan Foster, Antony Harris (Chairman), Phil Kirkby, David Knight, Barry Noakes, Caroline Richards, Jayne Russell, Guy Sutton and Peter Wood.