And another thing… (5 October 2016)

Hattie Harrison Fran Taylor

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Where is the hidden figure on how big a subsidy a new theatre may need?
In a full debate at the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council meeting on the July 20, councillors were questioning the possible increase in subsidy the council tax payers of the borough would be liable for if a new theatre were to be built.

A senior councillor recorded that in the past year the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury was subsidised by the Canterbury tax payers to the tune of £1.2million pounds, whereas the Assembly Hall received a subsidy of some £240,000, paid for by the tax payer.

In a response to that councillor, Councillor Hamilton stated that the Marlowe was in competition with the Gulbenkian Theatre, hence the large subsidy.

For Councillor Hamilton’s information, the Gulbenkian is on the University of Kent campus, has 340 seats and is grant-funded by the Arts Council, and in all probability receives a subsidy from the university.

However, what the councillor completely forgot, or chose to ignore, is that in Tunbridge Wells there are also two theatres. The second one being Trinity. It has a seating capacity slightly less than the Gulbenkian at 280 seats, is not grant-funded by the Arts Council, but did have a small subsidy from the council, and hence is a far more commercial operation than the second Canterbury theatre, and hence greater competition to a new theatre in Tunbridge Wells than the Gulbenkian is to the Marlowe.

So congratulations Councillor Hamilton, you were on the side of the senior councillor all the time! The question still remains: How large a subsidy will a larger theatre need? There must be a figure hidden away in vaults of the Town Hall that will at least be an indicator.

Roy Bullock

The Hub: A rightly robust riposte
I think your editorial [September 21] was a proper, and rightly robust, riposte to [architect] Ptolomy Dean’s altogether unsurprising [critical] comments on Southborough’s proposed Hub.

Some people live only in the past and would condemn the rest of us to reside there, too, and what Dean fails to reference – as your editorial did – is cost.

Should one ask if Mr Dean’s practice submitted a bid for the scheme? As for him being ‘a favourite of the Royal Family’ – well, I rest my case – pass round the Poundbury Mint Royals, someone.

Edward Baker
Tunbridge Wells

Gatwick: Was this a near miss?
At approximately 10.11 this morning [Sunday September 25], I witnessed a near miss between two passenger aircraft over Tunbridge Wells.

One was evidently circling on approach towards Gatwick, and at this point travelling in a northerly direction, and the other was travelling in an easterly direction.

From my garden they appeared of similar size, giving the impression that they were at similar altitude!

I saw them cross paths at 90 degrees to each other – one, briefly, superimposed upon the other!

I was relieved that they must have had some clear air between them, but this must have been hair-raising for their passengers. I regret that I did not have a camera ready to capture this.

The incident occurred during a busy sky. I witnessed noisy plane after noisy plane circling over central TW at 90 second intervals, seemingly barely 1,000 feet above ground.

Is there an advisory, or regulatory, altitude for these craft as they approach Tunbridge Wells airspace?

I suspect that, should Gatwick get its second runway, such issues will magnify.

Martin Dawes
Via email

Gatwick: Fence-sitting local MP
Your recent article [September 7] about cheap night flights from Gatwick, and the potential for increased traffic that could result, lists those local MPs who have signed a letter of objection.

Greg Clark, the local MP for Tunbridge Wells did not sign citing ‘collective Cabinet responsibility’. This is pusillanimity on a grand scale: Boris Johnson is in the Cabinet, and he speaks loudly and strongly about airports; his boss, Mrs May, has expressed concern about night flights; his Cabinet colleague Justine Greening has expressed strong views about airport expansion, too, so what’s collective Cabinet responsibility got to do with an expansion of night flights?

We know he’s a notorious fence-sitter, but is saying ‘no’ to this going to rock anyone’s boat?

Sam Goodenough
Tunbridge Wells

Local charges: The fundamental flaw
The fundamental flaw in extra local charges being levied on Tonbridge residents is that the services listed are enjoyed by residents from across the borough, not just Tonbridgians.

People from the locality come here to work and shop and enjoy the facilities.

Nicolas Heslop [leader of Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council] blames the Government, yet he and Tom Tugendhat [MP] were elected on a platform of unnecessary austerity.

Cuts are in the Tories DNA, and now there is nothing left to cut council tax is being raised to plug the gaps.

What is the point in holding a public consultation if 74 per cent of respondents against these changes are going to be ignored?

If this isn’t enough, TMBC now proposes changes to Council Tax Reduction, which in line with the welfare cuts will leave the poorest even worse off, while the Government plan to cut Corporation Tax – is this what they call Compassionate Conservatism?

While we are denied a town council of our own, the 12 TMBC councillors responsible for the town will allow this hike knowing the town is against the plans. We have a democratic deficit.

Mark Hood
Tonbridge and Malling Green Party

Fostering: Standardise all care
I was saddened to read of the lack of foster carers available in Tunbridge Wells, and the ‘crisis point’ we are now in as a community.

It seems that with such a jump in the amount of children needing care this year, it is time for the profiting fostering agencies to be stopped and instead all foster care to be standardised for the benefit all children.

Lorraine Holmes
Via email

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