Will the shake up of the Alliance mean a change of approach?

There was much fanfare amid the hope of a new style of local politics when Tunbridge Wells Alliance was launched around four years ago. Indeed this newspaper carried a front page story in support of the move believing that diversity of opinion on any Council has to be good for democracy.

The main objective of the party was to stop the planned £108million Calverley Square theatre complex. Which was fair enough. What the party failed to mention was the fact the driving forces behind the initiative lived on the doorstep of the planned site – they were NIMBYS. Again nothing wrong with that but it demonstrated from day one a lack of transparency from those wooing potential voters.

This was compounded by a social media campaign that targeted, often with hate mail from supporters, anyone who dared speak out against the Alliance. The party succeeded in taking council politics to a new low. 

At one point readers and advertisers were urged to boycott this newspaper because we had the temerity to disagree with the aggressive tactics of the Alliance that smothered free speech. It didn’t work because we’re still here but it was typical of the atmosphere of intimidation created by the Alliance.  

For the record, the Times would have opposed the Alliance tactics if it had used them to block a zebra crossing. It was not just about a new theatre.

The departure of Chairman Robert Chris is long overdue and will be mourned by few who are unbiased, moderates.

Will the Alliance survive? Maybe, but hopefully in a new form that is more transparent and free from the abusive invective that became its trade mark.

Democracy benefits from evidence based scrutiny… not hard-nosed threats and smear tactics that deter good people from playing any role in local decision making.


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