Ownership of the Commons: let’s act now to save them for the community forever

The Courier of 7th November 2014 published the two letters below.  Please assist us by writing to Targetfollow as indicated at the end of the 2nd letter. We are grateful for the support of the other signatories – these serve to underline the importance that the Commons have for the wider community who enjoy and care for these unique assets which help to make Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall such great places to live in and visit.

1. The Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Forum is excited to hear of the bid that the Friends of the Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons want to make, under the Localism Act, to buy the Commons on behalf of the people of Tunbridge Wells.

 

This has the full support of all the bodies represented on the Town Forum (an abbreviated list is appended below*).

 

We are all strongly of the opinion that the two Commons should belong to the people of Tunbridge Wells, and not to a remote commercial company.

 

When the time comes for raising funds, we know that we can count on all the people in our community to lend a hand.

 

David Wakefield   Chairman, Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Forum

 

  • Twenty five residents associations, Royal British Legion, Soroptimists, TW over 50s Forum, Residents First, Trinity Theatre, Citizens Advice Bureau, Pantiles’ Traders, Voluntary Action for West Kent, Friends of the Commons, Friends of the Museum, and the Civic Society.

 

 

2. We are calling on Courier readers to take action now to defend their Commons. The charging actions at Fir Tree Car Park showed that Targetfollow, the owner of the Commons, is driven by profit.

 

Both Commons were registered this year as an “Asset of Community Value” (ACV) by TWBC: if they were to be put up for sale at any time in the following 5 years then the Friends of the Commons had to be given a 6 month moratorium period in which to bid.

Targetfollow straightaway advised TWBC that it intended to sell the Commons.  Targetfollow then made it clear at a public meeting that it had no intention of selling – the “sale” was merely to trigger the moratorium period.

Despite saying that it would engage in dialogue with the Friends, Targetfollow cancelled a pre-agreed meeting without any reason other than that their position was fixed.

The Friends have indicated their intention to bid. We strongly believe that, with community support, we can raise the money to purchase the Commons for a fair price for them to be owned in perpetuity for the benefit and enjoyment of the community – by the people for the people!  Yet, after the expiry of the 6 month’s moratorium period on the 23rd December, Targetfollow can sell the Commons to any purchaser for a period of 18 months without involving the Friends or the community.

Fortunately the ACV listing lasts for 5 years and would be inherited by any other purchaser.  Any purchaser also inherits the obligation provided by statute to give 1/3rd of the income from the Commons to the Freehold Tenants. Additionally any commercial purchaser will know that these obligations and our intent to secure community ownership will persist. Targetfollow must engage with us to agree a fair price for the Commons.

If you feel as strongly as we do, please write to: Mr. Corin Thoday, CEO, Targetfollow Group Limited, Riverside House, 11/12 Riverside Road, Norwich NR1 1SQ or email him at corin.thoday@targetfollow.com  In either case please let us know at johnpbarber@btinternet.com or by phone on 07990 973 041

 

Yours truly

The Friends of Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons, The Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society, Rusthall Parish Council and the Rusthall Ward Councillors, and Rusthall Village Association