OPINION: New look council needs to reassure the developers
by Richard Moore | 8th May 2019
He is known as the Marmite Man; people love him or feel otherwise. Whatever the feeling one thing is for certain, Tunbridge Wells will likely be the poorer with the departure of David Jukes from the political arena.
Last week's local elections saw him ousted from his seat which also means he is no longer Council Leader. It is largely as result of his drive and enthusiasm that the borough is looking at developments in the town of around £500million - projects that would transform where we live and work.
There's the cinema site, the cultural hub, the RVP shopping centre and, of course, the theatre project. And that's the one that has undone former Cllr Jukes. The idea of building on the edge of Calverley Grounds led to the creation of Tunbridge Wells Alliance who took his seat and four Tory scalps.
David Jukes, who always took his job as Leader seriously but never himself, once famously said: "You could put a dog in pram and so long as the pram was painted blue it would get elected".
Clearly that's no longer the case.
Another casualty of the voter backlash was Tory Tracy Moore who also lost out to the Alliance. She was the 'voice' of the council initiative to build a new theatre. Cllr Moore was though somewhat more than that. She was one the new breed of younger professionals and a potential Council Leader. Her talent and enthusiasm for the town could not be faulted.
Congratulations though to all the new councillors and in particular to the Alliance for a targeted campaign that achieved its goal - a greater voice on the council.
This writer has gone on record before stating that democracy is perhaps better served by a local authority that is balanced with no single party having total dominance.
Now, though, the real work begins. Because the new shape council will have to work together in a way that demonstrates to developers that Tunbridge Wells remains a town that is worthy of their Investment.
And that investment is no longer a given...