WHAT DOES THE TORY LEAFLET MEAN?
No Doubt many of you will now have received a Conservative leaflet through your door, which hides more than it tells. Professional photography, expensive graphics, glossy paper and superior printing. But then most of the cost comes from "donations" from property developers and tax "avoiders", deep pockets. Whereas the Independent Alliance has to fund our campaign out of our own pockets, take our own pictures, and design it ourselves. But like a child's Mothers Day card, its the heart and love that is put into it that counts, not the presentation.
But what does the leaflet really mean? Let us try and read between the lines..............
Largely, it doesn't mean a lot, it is a generic leaflet, not aimed at Borough Green and Longmill at all, partly because two of the candidates have so recently been dragooned into reluctantly standing that they have not had time for personalised messages. I am not even sure that the pretty picture is in this area, its just a stock shot from somewhere on the North Downs.
And the "records" and "promises" are equally applicable to anywhere in the area, anywhere in the County.
But the map is extremely interesting. I have taken the liberty of including the numbers of Councillors appointed to each ward. As you can see Tonbridge has 15, and the Malling/Larkfield/Snodland / Aylesford / Burham area have 26, compared with our "Rural" area which has just 10. So we can never "win" in the Local Plan, we can never get a vote that will spread development fairly across the Borough. Those 41 vots in two blocs will always allow them to dump the unwanted housing in our rural area.
But we do have two chances-
1. In planning terms there is no justification for BGGC, they have ample non Greenbelt/AONB sites available which by Planning Rules must be exhausted first. TMBC have just refused housing on the old Reeds Paper Factory site, and there is no better definition of "Brownfield Land" than that. And we have a very strong team of Planning Experts to make that very case to the Inspectors
2 TMBC's Local Plan is already months late, and getting into serious trouble with the Inspectors.
1. "A Clean & Tidy Borough" - That may be true in Tonbridge, but whilst the two TMBC streetsweepers do their best, they are very limited by the huge patch they have to cover to be able to do more than a quick monthly whizz around the centre of our villages, if that.
2. Investment in the Public Realm. It is very true that TMBC have invested heavily in Tonbridge Flood relief, improvements to the Medway at Town Lock and River Walk, a refurbished High St, a new Station Approach, and £26000 for their Christmas Lights. But anywhere apart from Tonbridge? just few thousand to retailers in the Borough to upgrade shops.
3,4 & 5 Leisure and homeless accomodation - I support what they have done there. And the new recycling scheme, but they had to do something, they were nationally very near the bottom.
6. Financially sound? on a personal note they have spent well over £40,000 just pursuing spurious Standards Complaints against me, most of which failed.
7. More Social and Affordable Housing - very laudable, but the truth is it doesn't go to our local people who are in desperate need, it goes to well heeled new comers to the area. The A-Z site in Borough Green was supposed to provide 16 affordable homes, but TMBC "let the developer off" in exchange for a donation of £300k, not even the cost of a single house. And I wonder where that £300k went?
8. Fewer Councillors needed. I do not agree with that. Councillors are volunteers, so there is no cost saving by reducing numbers. I would happily vote to have Councillor's expenses removed. Every parish and ward deserves proper representation, and any attempt to tinker with numbers would be used to further disadvantage rural communities.
9 Free parking on Sundays - can't argue with that.
Bartosz has been a Parish Councillor for some time now, but apart from shaking hands and introducing himself to everyone he meets, he doesn't particpate a lot. He makes no bones about wanting a "career" in politics, and to be fair, in a few years time, when he has learnt a bit more he may be able to write his own articles, develop his own points of view and become an effective councillor. He has the drive, is aiming in the wrong direction - none of his High Powered friends actually have a vote here.
I can't really say anything bad about Matt, never met him, never heard of him until his name popped up on the nominations sheet.. Probably because he comes from Tonbridge. With the Local Plan as it is , do we really want a Tonbridge resident representing us?
If he does turn up on your doorstep canvassing, just ask him for directions to another street in Borough Green, or where Trust is dead and buried.
I have known Harry for many years, and have to admit he is a very effective County Councillor. But he already sits on most of the important Committees with us such as Joint Transportation, the Parish Partnership Panel, and the Kent Association of Local Councils. If we had 3 Independents, plus Harry on County, that gives us a team of 4 pulling together. If Harry takes one of us out, we will only have three voices. No matter how many hats he wears, he still only has one vote.
It is very true that the Conservatives are having extreme trouble recruiting candidates in Borough Green & Longmill. The proposal for BGGC has turned this area into a poisoned chalice for the Conservative Party, and the Party have had "purges" before this election and the last, de-selecting many long standing councillors. Why would anyone volunteer to serve on a Party that takes such extreme measures against dissenters. Perhaps Matt didn't know.
There is also a suspicion that Harry has had such difficulty recruiting candidates, he was given an ultimatum, and was forced to stand and make up the numbers. If the Conservatives could only field one or two candidates it sends a very poor message to the electorate.