To provide an overview of the achievements, priorities and projects of relevance to Tonbridge and the surrounding area.
The Chairman (in his role as Leader of the Borough Council) provided context for the setting of council tax and comparative costs related to parish council precepts. His presentation illustrated the services in Tonbridge supported/funded by the special expenses element. These included responsibility for the closed churchyards at St Peter and St Paul and at St Stephen; maintaining open spaces, parks and play areas; sport grounds and running and supporting local events.
The Chairman then went on to highlight recent activity in Tonbridge included numerous events in Haysden Country Park, a new path in Friendship Wood, new surfacing for a children’s play area, a tree planting project at Tonbridge Cemetery and Tonbridge Castle, habitat improvements with Medway Valley Countryside Project and reinstatement works to Tonbridge Castle Motte.
Gratitude was also expressed to the volunteers involved in the litter picks in the Spring.
In response to a question from the floor regarding developer contributions (known as s106 monies), the Chief Executive clarified that one off capital works could benefit from these. However, revenue and running costs were still the responsibility of the Borough Council and these were covered by special expenses where appropriate. It was also indicated that the principle of applying a local charge had been tested as part of a public consultation undertaken by the Borough Council when special expenses were first considered. If any alternative proposals regarding local charging were proposed the Borough Council would give them proper consideration.
A further question was asked regarding charging rates for charity and commercial events. Members were reminded of a recent Overview and Scrutiny Committee review which had looked at concessionary rates. The recommendations arising from this review had yet to be determined.
The following updates were also provided:
Waste Services Contract:
The new contractor (Urbaser) had started in March and was currently working to previous service arrangements. New operational arrangements would start on 30 September and would include separate weekly food collections, fortnightly dry mixed recycling collections (including plastics, glass and cartons) and recycling collections of textiles, household batteries and small electrical appliances.
All households would receive an information pack through the post in advance of the new service arrangements.
Currently, 8,000 households had subscribed to the garden waste collection scheme and the early bird discount offered ended on 2 August 2019. It was noted that delivery of new garden waste bins would start on 15 July and new food bins and caddies would be delivered to all households in August.
Further advice and information was available on www.tmbc.gov.uk/recycleforall
Shopfront Improvement Scheme:
There had been a good level of interest in the Scheme which had launched in March 2019 and provided grant assistance to independent retailers in Tonbridge and other retail centres in the Borough. Four grants had already been awarded with others currently being processed. The initiative would close once all funding had been allocated.
Rochester Bridge Trust Exhibition:
A ‘Crossing the River Medway’ event telling the story of the bridges over the river was being held at Tonbridge Castle until 31 January 2020.
Swimming Pool Bridge:
It was hoped that this would be open later in the year as the issue with the utility providers had been resolved. However, Members were cautioned that, as with any significant building project, the timetable was always subject to change.