RTW Civic Society Panel Debate about the future of the Commons 12.2.2015

RTEWCivic Society Commons Panel 12.2.15As the Courier reported ( http://www.courier.co.uk/Tunbridge-Wells-commons-sale-said-Targetfollow/story-26022363-detail/story.html) on February 20th 2015: “About 129 people crowded in to the council chamber to fire questions at a panel about Tunbridge Wells and Rustahall Commons being bought by a community group. ……just 3 hands raised their hands in favour of the Commons being in commercial ownership, with the rest wanting them to be publicly owned.”  Corin Thoday told the meeting: “We are not planning to sell any parts of the Commons – the Commons with the car park, the Commons without the car park, the Pantiles with the Commons, or the Pantiles without the Commons.  ….. What we are trying to achieve is to maximise the value of our asset.  That does not mean we have to maximise the income.”  The meeting was advised of the significant drop in income being generated from the Fairground Car Park for the Freehold Tenants to invest their one third share in the Commons.  Also large sums were reported as being demanded for “ransom strips” e.g. a patch of tarmac in front of the Vale Royal Methodist Church which is part of the Commons and is used for parking of vehicles.  John Barber, the Friends Chairman (pictured speaking to the audience) was quoted by the Courier as saying after the meeting:  ”The Community was asked for its views and spoke up.  There was an overwhelming majority for community ownership.”