To receive any questions from members of the Council, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Cabinet Procedure Rule 28.3, to be submitted and answered.
In advance of questions, the Chairman agreed that Councillor Pound be allowed to read the following statement (on behalf of all Labour, Liberal Democrat and Tunbridge Wells Alliance Members) as follows:
“As Councillor David Scott failed to attend Planning Committee last night to apologise for his breaches of the Code of Conduct and his quoted words about opposition Members, I can advise Cabinet today that no opposition party Member is willing to work with him in any capacity until he is removed as Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder”.
After the question submitted by Councillor Pound had been answered, Councillor Scott made the following comments in reply to the statement above:
- Immediately following receipt of a letter from the Monitoring Officer (also sent to opposition Members) a request was made to meet with the Monitoring Officer.
- Due to unforeseen circumstances the meeting was delayed and did not take place until Monday 14 March 2022.
- Following the meeting with the Monitoring Officer, a discussion with the Chair of Planning Committee took place. Given that there was only 48 hours until the next Planning Committee (16 March 2022), it was agreed that attendance would be at the following Planning Committee scheduled for 6 April 2022.
Pursuant to Cabinet Procedure Rule 28.3, Councillor Pound had submitted the question as follows:
“Is it the intention of this administration to run down access to and the utilisation of the TN2 Community Centre to the point that it gives up its lease or is there only a short-term lack of investment in resource, marketing, community engagement and competitive pricing – and if the latter, is there a plan for its regeneration?”
Councillor Dawlings provided the following response:
“TWBC continues to support the TN2 facility which during Covid19 along with all other similar facilities, has been significantly impacted in terms of what services could and can be run viably from the centre.
In addition to this, the area around the TN2 has also seen significant new developments from TCHG’s new residential offer. This has changed the population makeup in terms of mix of housing ownership, which in turn has led to a change in service requirements for the area which has also impacted the TN2.
TWBC has continued to run the TN2 Community Centre 3 evenings a week with a full programme in place. TWBC has also offered other groups such as Badminton to use the Centre during the day to enable them to undertake their activity which suited the needs of the client. Men’s Shed have also continued using their facility during the day too.
There is still 14 years left to run on the lease from the YMCA to TWBC and there is no break clause in the lease allowing TWBC to hand back the building during this period.
The adult education service is shortly about to close as it moves back to the Amelia Scott. Due to decreasing use of the service in 2019 the Library held a public consultation and consequently reduced the opening hours.
Despite all these changes, TWBC will continue to support the TN2 and engage with stakeholders on this building to ensure it continues to deliver a community benefit longer term and what this could eventually look like.
In the light of the examples given and the activities that are taking place:
- Does the Council find it acceptable that the centre was only open 3 evenings a week and not open at the weekends for public bookings and the only access during the day was via the key holders.
- Does the Council find it acceptable that the sports hall was not listed as a sports hall on the Sport England site. In addition it was missing from the recent strategic outcomes report.
- Does the Council find it acceptable that there was no plan to let out, utilise or maintain the under croft when KCC moved the pottery back to the new Amelia Scott building.
- Does the Council find it acceptable that TN2 room hire was more expensive than St Philips Church.
- Does the Council find it acceptable that being empty during the week, unbookable at weekends local residents did not consider it an option for use.
- That ultimately the centre was being run down by stealth.
Councillor Dawlings confirmed the Centre was not being run down by stealth. Ultimately this was a matter for the local Councillors for Sherwood and the Head of Facilities at TWBC who was responsible for the management of the facility.