Agenda and minutes

Full Council - Wednesday, 13th December, 2023 6.30 pm

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Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services Team 


No. Item


Apologies for absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

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Apologies were received from Councillors Morton, Roberts and  White


Councillor Holden left the Chamber @ 7.28pm

Councillor Ms Palmer left the Chamber @ 8.37pm



Minutes of the Extra Ordinary meeting dated 4 October 2023 pdf icon PDF 154 KB

To approve the minutes of the Extra Ordinary meeting held on 4 October 2023 as a correct record. The only issue relating to the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.

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No amendments were proposed


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the extraordinary meeting dated 4 October 2023 be approved as a correct record.



Minutes of the Ordinary meeting dated 4 October 2023 pdf icon PDF 188 KB

To approve the minutes of the Ordinary meeting held on 4 October 2023 as a correct record. The only issue relating to the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.


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Councillor O’Connell requested the minutes reflect a wording change from Government to Governance.



1.     That FC43/22 be amended to replace the word Government with Governance and

2.    That, subject to the above amendment, the minutes of the meeting dated 4 October 2023 be approved as a correct record.





Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To receive any declarations of interest by members in items on the agenda. For any advice on declarations of interest; please contact the Monitoring Officer before the meeting.

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Cllr Warne declared an interest in Agenda item 10, Response to the Inspectors Initial findings on the Local Plan


Cllr Warne is an employee of Natural England who are a statutory consultee on the local plan, her role involves advising on planning matters, whilst she has not consulted directly on this matter, she is aware of natural England objection.





Announcements pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive announcements from the Mayor, the Leader of the Council, members of the Cabinet and the Chief Executive.

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The Mayor made the following announcements:


  • The Mayor advised all members that his Christmas Toy appeal received over 6,000 toys donated, which enabled 660 families to be helped.
  • The Mayor was pleased to advise that the Toy donations seem to increase year- on-year.
  • He took the opportunity to thank the generosity of the public of the borough, which made this appeal possible.
  • The Mayor personally expressed his Thanks to Trevor Crawford and his team of volunteers who managed the appeal out of the RVP.


The Leader of the Council - Councillor Ben Chapelard.


  • Provided an update on the corporate plan and thanked all those councillors who took part, he advised that the first draft will go to consultation in the new year.
  • He advised there are other strategic projects to be delivered, however these were not being delayed until further analysis of what the public wanted to be undertaken.



Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning - Councillor Hugo Pound


  • Advised that on 29 November, Councillor Rutland and himself joined Tunbridge Wells and Area Access Group for a challenging afternoon navigating RVP in wheelchairs (self-propelled and electric) to understand better the challenges faced by people with mobility difficulties.
  • He urged other councillors if offered the same opportunity to do similar.
  • He also advised he had received written instruction from the former Cinema Site /Retirement village that work is planned to start commencement on the Cinema site on January 2, 2024.
  • A further update will be provided in 2024.


Portfolio Holder for Communities and Deputy Leader – Councillor Nancy Warne


·         Informed members that a consultation was taking place on violence against women and girls and could be accessed on the council website.

·         Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is keen to improve the safety of women in public places and to work together to address their concerns.

·         Encouragement was given to the members of the public and councillors to engage in the survey.

Portfolio Holder for Economic Development – Councillor Justine Rutland

·         Was pleased to announce that that over the last 18 months the Amelia has received over 500,000 visitors.

·         The Amelia Scott has become a welcoming, busy, inclusive place, for all residents of the borough and looked forward to seeing what 2024 brings.


Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services – Councillor Ellen Neville


·         Was pleased to announce the waste collection stats for the week were 99.59% for recycling, 99.81% for garden waste, and food waste at 99.98% with domestic waste reaching 100%.

·         99.4% of bins are being collected on the scheduled day.

·         Residents were reminded of the collection date changes over the festive period, which would be published in the Newsletter, on the TWBC website along with the local magazine.

·         The Crematorium recycles metals donated by families in the form of plaques etc, over the last 12 months this has accumulated to an insubstantial amount which has been sold and donated to charity through the ICCM recycling scheme.

·         In 2023, the crematorium saw a significant rise in families losing loved ones due to  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC51/22


U13 Tunbridge Wells Girls Cricket Club pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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The Mayor and Portfolio Holder for Sports, Leisure, and Health Councillor Wilkinson welcomed Tunbridge Wells Girls U13 Cricket Club and set out their reasons for granting the well-deserved award.

The team had an amazing year, having won the ECB National Under 13 girls T20 championship at Lords in September, the team captioned by Daisy Brandon had to play eight gruelling rounds, where every team player contributed along the way, either with bat, ball, or behind the wicket.

Upon receiving the award, Paul Moran expressed his thanks and expressed a great sense of pride at the achievement. He recognised.

·         Ava Waduge,  who achieved the second-highest wicket-taker in the cup

·         Sylvie Brandon, the youngest member whose crowning moment was scoring the winning runs in a very tight match against Spencer in Surrey

·         Charley Wren, was the star bowler who broke a lot of partnerships up

·         Georgia Moran, had an amazing season, becoming the second-highest run-scorer with 230 (achieving 90 not out at Lords)

·         Ruby Marriage, another high scorer leading with 280

·         Daisy Brandon, who showed great leadership during her captain ship
































Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 31 KB

To receive any questions from members of the public, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 8, to be submitted and answered.

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The Mayor advised that no questions from members of the public had been received under Council Procedure Rule 8.


Question 1. From Mr Brand


What is the business case for the purchase of Royal Victoria Place and was a feasibility study completed?

  • Is this available?
  • Where did the funds come from?
  • How does this this work with the council’s current asset disposal programme?



Answer from Councillor Hall


Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor, and thank you Mr brand, for your question, so yes, Councillors received numerous briefings throughout the acquisition process which included a business case and a feasibility study to confirm what you are asking, however, these remain commercially sensitive, we're funding the purchase of Royal Victoria Place through working capital, a form of internal borrowing using money we hold which is not needed in the short term and this will be repaid through the income that is generated.

proactive asset management requires both a consideration of acquisitions to the Council's property portfolio as well as disposing of those assets which are no longer required, thank you.



Supplementary Question from Mr Brand


I noticed that there was a request for ideas from the public as to what to do with certain parts of RVP, are there any comments on that.



Supplementary Answer from Councillor Hall


Yes, I certainly do , what we are trying to achieve is to stabilise and rejuvenate the Royal Victoria Place and so that it makes a positive contribution overall to Royal Tunbridge Wells, and I think if anyone wants to put forward ideas that are very welcome. in terms of what you'd like to see or anyway any resident would like to see in the shopping centre, then there is an email address which is, and then will ensure these are passed on to the asset managers who very much want the public's feedback.

thank you.



Question 2. From Mr Key


Good evening and Merry Christmas to everyone.


I would like to seek clarification on the democratic aspects of our council’s decision to join UK100. Considering UK100s non-governmental nature and the requirements for local authorities to sign a pledge without explicit public consent, could the council elaborate on the specific reasons for joining UK100 and how does the council address concern about the alignment of these commitments with the democratic mandate of the constituents?



Answer from Councillor Sharratt


Thank you for this question, I welcome the opportunity to talk about our membership of UK100, which is a cross party organisation that supports local councils to reach their net zero targets, as well as engaging with national decision makers. Our membership was agreed by the cross-party Climate Emergency Advisory Panel earlier this year. There is a clear democratic mandate for us being a member of this organisation because their aims are aligned with the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency declaration passed at Full Council in July 2019 with cross-party support, and indeed help us work towards our net zero goals. Lobbying central government was one  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC53/22


Questions from members of the Council pdf icon PDF 32 KB

To receive any questions from members of the Council, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10, to be submitted and answered.

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Question 1 from Councillor Holden


In an LBC radio interview, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, Ed Davey said that "quite clearly" a woman can have a penis. Does the Leader of this council agree with his party leader and if so, does that mean Tunbridge Wells Borough Council will allow someone with a penis into women and girls' changing rooms, toilets, and other women-only areas of buildings it owns or controls, such as the Weald Sports Centre in Cranbrook?


Answer from Councillor Chapelard


Thank you, Mr. Mayor, thank you, Councillor Holden, for your question before I answer both halves of your question. I want to give some important context. The issue of transgender rights is often brought up in the media by MPs and other people, as what is described as a gotcha question. At the end of the day, we must all remember that we are talking about real people who are going through real things, and this is their life that we are talking about.


So, to answer the first part of your question for most people their gender identity matches their biological gender at birth, but there is a relatively small number of people out there where this is not the case.

this discussion has got so horrible, and I just want to restate that we just need to make sure that we respect their transgender identity to for ages and ages, we have recognised that some people's identity does not match their sex that they were given when they were born and in fact since 2004 under the gender recognition Act this has now been legally recognised with relevant safeguards put in place to stop people abusing the gender identity.


unfortunately, this has become part of a wider debate, that's become really toxic, hostile horrible, and we need to get past this to have a proper conversation with people and putting people’s safety and dignity first.


So to answer the second part of your question. to date, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has never had a single complaint raised about transgender people in any of the locations we own, or we run, not one zero in total there is no problem, and therefore Tunbridge Wells Borough Councils working practices do not need to change.


But let's go back to the context of his question, it's a really tricky conversation and very difficult, and there are lots of sensitivities that are made and for service providers, in particular, like leisure centres like Tunbridge Wells.

borough council, we're talking about women who are transgender, who are not, who have been, in many cases, victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse at the hands of men, making sure all women feel safe is the key here, and we need to get support to make sure that they feel safe in every part of our organisation, thank you.





Supplementary Question from Councillor Holden


You said in your answer that it was important to put the Safety and Dignity of  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC54/22


Notice of Use of Urgency Procedures pdf icon PDF 75 KB

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Mr Tansley, was a registered speaker, however on hearing the statement the Mayor determined that it was not relevant to the agenda item.


Councillor Paterson moved, and Councillor Pope seconded, the recommendations set out in the notice on the agenda.


The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation.




1.    To note the use of the Call-In and Urgency procedure, in accordance with Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 14, in respect of the following Cabinet decisions


2.    New Lease in Royal Victoria Place, Royal Tunbridge Wells:  The decision was made on Friday 27 October 2023.


3.    New Lease in Royal Victoria Place, Royal Tunbridge Wells: Awaiting Cabinet approval on Thursday 7 December 2023.  Subject to approval, the decision will be made on Friday 8 December 2023




Response to the Inspectors Initial Findings letter on the Local Plan pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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The Monitoring Officer addressed the room and reminded members of the content of an email shared with them all earlier regarding pre determination and possible Bias.


The intention of the email set out two questions that members would need to consider for themselves:


  • Whether a fair minded person, informed of all of the facts, would conclude that a member was biased


  • Whether a member had approached the debate with a closed mind.



These were two questions that members must answer for themselves, a member must determine whether or not they stayed or recused themselves from the Chamber, 


Councillor Warne, Councillor Paterson and Councillor Holden left the chamber during this discussion.


The Deputy Mayor advised that there were four members of the public registered to speak:


·         Mr Stewart Gledhill on behalf of Save Capel

·         Mr Chris Wise

·         Mr Mike Vos

·         Councillor Williams on Behalf of Paddock Wood


Debates from speakers included the following points:


  • In 2019, Capel expressed a strong desire to remove Tudeley from the Local Plan there was an overwhelming 8,000 responses to the public consultations
  • It was felt that the garden settlement was unsuitable for development and that Tudeley was the wrong location, a view supported by Tonbridge and Mailing Borough Council.
  • Members of Parliament agreed that Tudeley and 5 Oak Green should be removed from the plan to protect their special rural character.
  • The Officer report at paragraph 5.17 states that the Inspectors did not conclude that the proposal could necessarily be justified.
  • Although more than 30 documents have been produced, the evidence base has yet to be completed and there is no viability plan or infrastructure cost plan.
  • The inadequacies of the proposed project have been highlighted by the Parish Council, individual constituents and most importantly by an independent inspector.
  • The continued pursuit of Tudeley village was a burden on the taxpayer which, together with seven to eight different consultants and the contribution of the in-house team, amounted to over £170,000.
  • Credit was given to the Democratic Services team who manage a very difficult task very well, including the preparation of the meeting and the timely publication of documents.
  • The National Power Planning Policy Framework requires that a Local Plan in relation to RTW 16, the Ramsay Farm area, incorrectly referred to in the draft plan as Spratt Brook Farm, is justified and based on appropriate evidence
  • The Ramsay Farm area, has incorrectly been referred to as Spratt Brook Farm in the draft plan, and has been persistently and incorrectly designated as Grade 4 urban land and it is not Grade 3 agricultural land, as confirmed by the Council's independent consultant.
  • The land stretching from Ramslye to Broadwater Forest Lane has been  farmed land since the doomsday book and is classified in part as grade 3 A or Grade 3 B agricultural land which is adjoining an area of outstanding natural beauty.
  • Other green spaces within the parish has been designated as more suitable development areas but ignored
  • Ramslye is an agricultural holding where crops  ...  view the full minutes text for item FC56/22


Constitutional Working Group pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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Councillor Chapelard Moved and Councillor Warne seconded


The report was taken as read…


The Mayor took a vote on the motion by affirmation


RESOLVED  -  Officer recommendations as supported by the Cabinet Member, the Constitution Review Working Party and Audit and Governance Committee:


1.    That Full Council approves the amendments to the Constitution as set out in Appendices A to M to this report.

2.    That Full Council approve that the Monitoring Officer be authorised to make all other necessary and consequential changes to the Constitution to give effect to these recommendations.



Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2024-25 pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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Councillor Hall moves, and Councillor Chapelard Seconded the recommendations set out in the report


The report was taken as read.


The Mayor took a recorded vote on the motion in accordance with Council Procedural Rule 15.7



Members who voted for the Motion: Councillors Allen, Arkinson, Barrington-King, Barrass, Bland, Brice, Chapelard, Curry, Dawlings, Ellis, Fairweather, Fitzsimmons, Francis, Goodship, Hall, Hayward, Hill, Johnson, Knight, Le Page, Lidstone, McMillan, March. Moon, Munday, Neville, O’Connell, Opara, Osborne  Palmer, Patterson, Pound, Pope, Rogers, Rutland, Sankey, Sharratt, Wakeman, Warne, Webster and Wilkinson (41)


Members who abstained from voting : Councillor Britcher Alan and Lewis (2)


Members who voted against the Motion: (0)




1.    That Council notes the progress of the income banded Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

2.    That Council recommends that no changes are made to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2024/25, except for a percentage increase to the income bands in line with the DWP annual percentage uprating increase.

3.    That Cabinet fully costs out the financial impacts to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council of a full range of Council Tax Reduction Schemes.




Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To consider any other items which the Mayor decides are urgent, for the reasons to be stated, in accordance with Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

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There was no urgent business.


Common Seal of the Council pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To authorise the Common Seal of the Council to be affixed to any contract, minute, notice or other document arising out of the minutes, or pursuant to any delegation, authority or power conferred by the Council.

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RESOLVED That the Common Seal of the Council be affixed to any contract, minute, notice or other document arising out of the minutes or pursuant to any delegation, authority or power conferred by the Council.



Date of Next Meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 28 February 2024



The meeting closed at 8.52..