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Wednesday July 1 | 2020

TUNBRIDGE WELLS is open for business

How to shop local and make the most of your town WE’RE BACK! This relaunch edition of the Times celebrates the start of the town’s recovery from Covid-19 with many shops already open while pubs, restaurants and hairdressers are preparing to welcome customers from this weekend [July 4]. What a difference. When we suspended publication on March 25, we promised we would return ‘soonest’. And we like to keep our word. It’s not all over yet with coronavirus but we are cautiously emerging from those darkest of days when businesses were locked and streets deserted.

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TUNBRIDGE WELLS 01892 526344 TONBRIDGE 01732 355911 SEVENOAKS 01732 460565 PADDOCK WOOD 01892 833456 KINGS HILL 01732 897925

Today it’s all about being flexible and adapting. Like The Mount Edgcumbe pub/restaurant that’s ‘converted the beer garden into seating only.” It’s fully booked this weekend. Down the road the smaller Bedford pub is opening its doors even though it can only handle 15 people at a time and doesn’t ‘expect to make any money’. The Times of Tunbridge Wells was launched five years ago to promote all the things that are great about our town and to support local business and the community. We have done our best to meet that challenge. Today though, the challenge is even greater. Like never before, we all need to work together, support each other and navigate the path ahead back to

‘normality’. It will not be easy, and it will not be quick, but it can happen. The Chief Executive of business group Royal Tunbridge Wells Together, Ross Feeney, summed it up nicely: “Now is the time to be positive about our town and put aside any frustrations. “Get behind our businesses and shop local... If you don’t use them you will lose them.”

And the Times is ready to play its part. We have partnered with Royal Tunbridge Wells Together to produce, inside, a four-page pull-out that will help you navigate your way back to ‘normality’. It tells you, amongst other things, how to stay Covid safe and get the most out of your town with social distancing markers on pavements and where those pavements are narrow, they will be one way.

Smaller shops will be limiting the number of customers. Bus and train services have been increased and if you’re arriving by public transport don’t forget to wear a face covering. But above all else - don’t forget to support local! See our Covid safety pullout pages 23-26. Richard Moore Editor


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What a difference a few weeks make as town gets back to near normality

THANK YOU ADVERTISERS THE Times is a free publication which means if there are no adverts, there’s no income and no newspaper. That’s why we say a big ‘thank you’ to all those advertisers who enabled us to keep going when we switched our focus and resources to our website and social media platforms - which will continue. Without you we would not have survived, and this newspaper would not have been printed this week. Readers can now play their part by supporting local businesses that helped keep us afloat. Together we can...

PHOTOS: Rose Bainbridge

FOLLOWING the shops reopening, and the pubs, bars and restaurants in the town are set to begin serving customers again on Saturday, life in Tunbridge Wells is beginning to get back to normality. While measures to ensure social distancing is maintained and people are kept safe, the town centre, The Pantiles and the High Street have emerged from a virtual ghost town from only a few weeks ago back to a busy, thriving shopping area. Last week’s hot weather saw hundreds of people out and about, enjoying the chance to visit their favourite shops and meet up with friends and family, albeit following socially distanced guidance, after nearly three months of isolation.

Wednesday July 1 | 2020

Force is criticised for ‘woke’ gypsy flag stunt

FLAG WAVING Deputy Chief Constable Tony Blaker holding a flag celebrating Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month

By Richard Williams KENT police has been criticised for posting a social media post in support of Gypsy Roma Traveller [GRT] History Month. The post, which was put on Twitter last week [Wednesday, June 24] featured a picture of the force’s Deputy Chief Constable Tony Blaker, PC Kate West and Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Suki Randhawa holding up GRT flag. The post stated: “We’re marking Gypsy Roma Traveller History month by raising the ‘GRT’ flag’, helping to show our continued support for diverse communities. Kent’s history has a rich Gypsy and Roma heritage and we’ll continue to work with all communities to ensure this is a welcoming county for all.” However, by the weekend, the post had received nearly 2,000 comments, mostly mocking the force for what some described as a ‘woke political stunt’. Others asked when ‘catch a criminal day was’, while Twitter user Simon Lord added: “Dear Kent Police, as this week is Armed Forces Week, could

you tell us how you intend marking this event? “As Kent was full of famous RAF Stations such as Biggin Hill, whose brave pilots played a huge part in saving us from the Nazis, will you be raising a flag for them?” DCC Tony Blaker responded to the criticism, saying: “Kent Police employs staff from all strands of society, including people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller backgrounds, and this flag was flown in response to a request from serving officers in Kent. “British policing is by consent and Kent Police seeks to positively engage with all our communities, and in doing so we regularly show our support for other national and international events and religious festivals.” However, it is not the first time the force has been criticised for making political statements. Last month, its Chief Constable, Alan Pughsley, was pictured ‘taking the knee’ at an event that coincided with large scale Black Lives Matter [BLM] marches across the UK.

TAKING THE KNEE Chief Constable Alan Pughsley last month

DEEP CLEAN Temple Grove Academy reopens today

School reopens after Covid scare A TUNBRIDGE WELLS primary school is to reopen today [Wednesday] after it was closed last week when a staff member tested positive for coronavirus. Temple Grove Academy in Friars Way was forced to shut on Thursday [June 25]. Consultant headteacher, Isabel Ramsay, broke the news of the Covid diagnosis to parents by email that afternoon. She said: “We were notified early this morning, Thursday June 25, that a member of staff has tested positive for coronavirus. “Therefore, the school has been shut this morning and we are taking advice from Public Health England. “The school will remain shut whilst we take advice and we will keep you updated. “The families of the pupils in the bubble have been contacted. Thank you for your continued support.”

But following the school closure, the affected staff member was retested for the virus last week and the result came back negative, which has enabled the school to reopen. Ms Ramsay said: “I can confirm that the school has had a deep clean from a specialist cleaning company over the weekend and we will be ready to open on Wednesday July 1. “The staff member who tested positive on Wednesday had another test on Friday and this was negative.” However, she added that following Public Health England advice, while Reception classes, Year 1 and Year 6 would return to school today, Year 5 pupils will continue to self-isolate until Thursday, July 9. According to figures released by Public Health England yesterday [Tuesday], 275 people have so far tested positive for coronavirus in Tunbridge Wells – the third lowest number of cases in Kent.


FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk

Wednesday July 1 | 2020

NEWS IN BRIEF

Historic estate is to reopen for weddings ONE of Tunbridge Wells’ most historic buildings is to reopen this weekend after being closed for more the 12 weeks due to lockdown. Salomons Estate in Broomfield Road will open again from July 4 for small weddings and ceremonies of up to 30 guests. The former country manor of London Lord Mayor Sir David Salomons, has implemented new Covid safety measures to enable its many venue rooms, including the prestigious Victorian Theatre, to be used again. A spokesman said: “We’re implementing robust safety measures across Salomons Estate and Country House as instructed by global and local public health authorities to make our cleaning, hygiene and social distancing protocols even more rigorous. “These include restricting the number of guests attending functions and events to ensure social distancing, one way routes in frequent pedestrian areas, PPE to ensure protection for both our customers and employees, as well as twice daily meticulous cleaning of all our public areas.”

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THIRSTY THIS WEEKEND?

By Richard Williams PUBS in Tunbridge Wells have welcomed the chance to reopen this weekend, but many say new rules aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus mean they won’t make any money. From Saturday [July 4], pubs and restaurants across England will be allowed to reopen for the first time since lockdown began on March 23. The government has relaxed the two-metre social distance rule to one metre+, but new guidance asking pubs to provide table service only, as well as banning loud music and the broadcast of sport, could hit many town centre pubs hard.

PINT SIZE PROFIT: The Bedford pub does not expect to make money despite being allowed to reopen

SOFT REOPENING: Mount Edgcumbe is only accepting diners for the next few weeks

Valentin Ostafi, general manager at popular gastro pub, The Mount Edgcumbe, says the changes have meant they are only planning a ‘soft reopening’. “We will be open, but we are only going to operate as a restaurant to begin with, so we have converted the beer garden into seating only,” he said. “We are fully booked for this weekend, but it is going to be very difficult. Capacity has gone down quite a lot. We used to get maybe 150 people in the beer garden but now we can only have round 50 or 60.” He continued that they hope to allow drinkers in over the next few weeks, but at nowhere near

After 12 weeks of lockdown, a number of pubs in Tunbridge Wells have said they plan on reopening this Saturday, July 4. These include: CHAPEL PLACE WINE AND GIN, in Chapel Place, which will be open from noon. SAINT JOHN’S YARD, in St John’s Road plans to open all day. THE RAGGED TROUSERS on The Pantiles will open from noon until 11pm. THE GEORGE on Mount Ephraim also plans to open from noon until 11pm. THE GUINEA in Calverley Road will open at noon, but for bookings only. THE BEDFORD plans to open from around noon to 11pm. MOUNT EDGCUMBE on the Common will open but only as a restaurant. Some other pubs, including The Royal Oak and The Shuffle House have said they plan to reopen by next weekend [July 7]. the numbers they had in before. “I don’t know if we will make any money. It is great to be open and have the staff working again – we can only hope that we break even over the next few weeks and then see if new guidance is introduced.”

Guidance While table service and booking systems are the norm for restaurants and gastro pubs, those that do not concentrate on food say the changes will make it impossible to be profitable. Avalina K, manager at The Bedford pub on the corner of the High Street, says the rule changes means their capacity will be limited to just 15 people. “We do plan to open on July 4 and are readying the pub with a thorough clean, but we don’t expect to make any money,” she told the Times. “We are an entertainment pub, so people come for live music and watch sport, but of course both of these are now banned.” She added that they are currently changing the layout to ensure they adhere to the minimum social distancing guidance, but it will dramatically reduce their capacity. “We won’t be able to have more than 15 people in, so we won’t make any money when we open. We can only hope that this is the start and if the number of Covid cases continues to go down we can then return to full capacity.”

Rusthall house fire A PROPERTY in Rusthall caught fire following an electrical fault, Kent Fire and Rescue Service has said. Firefighters in breathing apparatus attended the property in Burdett Road on Saturday night [June 27] after flames and smoke were reported billowing from the property. No casualties were reported, and the fire is believed to have started accidentally due to an electrical fault.

NEWS

Pubs raise a cautious glass to rules allowing them to reopen

Long road for works A TUNBRIDGE Wells councillor has hailed a victory after getting three roads resurfaced in Tunbridge Wells – after four decades of campaigning. Former mayor and independent councillor David Neve says Albion Road, Commercial Road and King George V Hill in St James’ ward have finally been fixed by Kent County Council. He said: “These roads haven’t been resurfaced since the late 70s, so it has been a long road to get the work done. Finally, residents have the road surface they deserve, without potholes and without looking like a patchwork quilt.”

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Council battles to cope following ‘widespread collapse’ of income By Richard Williams JUST how much the coronavirus crisis is likely to cost Tunbridge Wells and what effects the pandemic will have on the town going forward has been laid bare. On Thursday [June 25], Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s [TWBC] Cabinet – the decision-making group on the council – held only their second meeting since lockdown began on March 23. In a report presented to Cabinet on the impact of the crisis, Council Leader Alan McDermott was told the pandemic could leave a blackhole in the authority’s finances of more than £8million, unless central government gave the authority more financial help. Director of Finance, Lee Colyer, said that the health emergency was costing TWBC around £1million a month and that the pandemic had caused ‘widespread collapse in local income and all local governments are under extreme pressure’.

Deficit TWBC’s main revenue streams, such as council tax, business rates and car parking fees have been dramatically reduced due to lockdown. While central government has given TWBC around £1.2million to help it cope with the crisis, if additional funds are not forthcoming, Mr Colyer has warned that ‘the Council could potentially

face an £8 million in-year budget deficit’. While the Council has reserves, he added if the government didn’t bail out the authority, it could be at risk of ‘not being able to fund its statutory obligations’, which he described as being ‘a disaster for residents’. The Cabinet also heard how a number of the town’s major projects now face setbacks. The completion of the Public Realm works – the new pedestrian friendly area on Monson Road and a revamped War Memorial – had been delayed due to lockdown as some materials were unavailable, but this has now been completed – albeit months behind schedule. Work also stopped briefly on the Southborough Hub. While construction on the Amelia Scott – the town’s new cultural centre – continued throughout lockdown, the cost of the project is now expected to rise, and the Council may struggle to pay for it. The £13.2million cultural and learning centre has been part financed by both TWBC and Kent County Council, along with £4.3million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. But around £1million of the cost was expected to come through a fundraising campaign, which a corporate update also presented to Cabinet on Thursday, says is now ‘unlikely’ to reach its target. The carbon audit has also been delayed, putting at risk the Council’s hopes of going carbon neutral by 2030.

Lobbying bid for extra cash from discretionary virus support fails

By Robert Forrester BUSINESSES in Tunbridge Wells that received thousands in Covid help, have attempted to pressure the Council into handing out extra cash, it has emerged. In May, the Council was given more than £1.3million by central government for discretionary grants to help struggling businesses that didn’t qualify for earlier grants and rate relief unveiled by the chancellor at the start of the pandemic. Nearly 2,000 businesses in the borough had already received a share of £26million in business support, ranging from grants of £10k to £25k, but a number had failed to meet the criteria, and many faced closure. The Council has now paid out around £1.1million to 120 of these businesses to help them survive the crisis. While data protection rules mean the Council is under no obligation to reveal who has received support, it is understood around 40 applications were rejected. Because the grants were ‘discretionary’ a number of businesses in the town who had already been given cash handouts, pressed the Council for extra money from the scheme.

Rejected One high-profile businessman who had received tens of thousands in government help tried to lever an additional £25k from the council.

At least one councillor lobbied on his behalf. His application was rejected, and the Council insists it has targeted the money to only those businesses that have met its criteria and that have had no prior Covid support. A spokesperson for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said: “Government gave the Council £1.365million to distribute via discretionary grants, with clear guidance that this was primarily aimed at the small businesses who were not eligible for a Small Business Grant of £10,000. “These were B&Bs, companies renting a small part of another business-rated property, market traders and small charities. “In addition, government gave members permission to exercise discretion and make other sectors eligible too. “Our members included cultural and creative businesses and extended the Government’s Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant scheme to businesses in their supply chain, and those Retail, Hospitality and Leisure businesses who may have had a Rateable Value of over £51k, but have a mortgage or rental agreement of under £51,000 per annum. “The criteria for applications was set out in a portfolio holder decision report which is on the Council’s website. The criteria was also set out for businesses as part of the online application process.” She added that there was around £240,000 left in the discretionary grant scheme and the Council will decide shortly how this can be applied for.

Wednesday July 1 | 2020

AMELIA The pandemic may mean costs on the cultural hub could rise

FATE OF THEATRE AND TOWN HALL IN THE BALANCE PLANS to upgrade the ailing Town Hall and Assembly Hall Theatre have been put on hold due to the Covid crisis. The Council was in the process of ‘re-visiting its vision and ambitions’ for the town following the failure of its Calverley Square project but plans have been suspended ‘until there is greater clarity on the recovery from the pandemic and on the state of the Council’s finances’. The Assembly Hall, the town’s 1,000-seater theatre requires major improvements, and has been closed since lockdown began on March 23. No plans for its reopening have yet been announced, as live performances are still banned. But the theatre still requires around £500,000 a year in taxpayer’s subsidy. Since October last year, when councillors overwhelmingly voted against ‘the principle’ to provide a theatre for the town during the Calverley Square debate, the Council is no longer under any obligation to keep the Assembly Hall. UNCERTAIN TWBC had planned to sell off the ageing building along with the Town Hall if the Calverley Square theatre had been given the go-ahead, but it may now be forced to sell off both buildings to balance its books, leaving the town without a major arts venue other than the 300-seat charityrun Trinity Theatre. In a Q&A session with residents on Facebook last month, Council Leader Alan McDermott, admitted the future of the theatre was uncertain. He said: “It is a fact that the Assembly Hall is nearly a century old and is getting a long way away from what touring productions

CURTAIN FALLS? The fate of the Assembly Hall Theatre is now uncertain

want or expect and its subsidy levels are now approaching half a million pounds a year. “It is hard to imagine theatres being allowed to open any time soon and the pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on the sector.” He continued: “We will obviously have to keep the theatre closed for as long as the restrictions remain in place and to have some conversations about what we want to do for the future in terms of theatre provision.” The future of Town Hall, which the Council say ‘is no longer fit for purpose’ is also uncertain. The current pandemic has highlighted how little it is needed, with the ageing building, which is hardly being used as most Council staff are working from home – and there are no plans for any of them to return any time soon. In the same briefing to residents, Chief Executive of TWBC, William Benson, said: “Over the past few years we have spent millions of pounds maintaining the civic suite of buildings and with money being tighter than ever, I don’t think residents will appreciate services being cut to continue occupying a building that is four times the size we need. “A cross party group of councillors has been looking at this issue and I think the issue of the future of the Town Hall has become more relevant than ever given that we are unlikely to be able to return all staff to the building for many, many months. “It is also true to say that the requirement to work from home and the fact that we have done it so successfully means that we should – like many other businesses – be thinking about how we work in future.”


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Wednesday July 1 | 2020

Coronavirus will cost every business more than £70,000

By Richard Williams COVID-19 has cost nearly every business in Kent nearly £40,000 so far, and firms are expecting to lose an additional £33,000 before the crisis is over, a survey has found. A report compiled by a team that delivered helpline support to more than 9,000 local companies, also reveals that more than two thirds have had to use the government’s furlough scheme. The Covid-19 Business Helpline, which was set up by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Kent County Council and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership in March, peaked with more than more than 350 businesses calling or web chatting the service every day during lockdown. Now, in a survey into the effect Covid-19 has had on businesses they have advised, the Business Helpline team say the crisis has had a negative impact on 94.2 per cent of respondents.

The 1,436 businesses who provided financial figures to the survey reported a cumulative monthly loss of more than £55million, the equivalent to £38,864 for each business – and this is despite financial help from the government such as business rate relief and the job retention scheme. In addition, around 90 per cent of businesses expect to lose a further £33,500 before the crisis is over. In contrast, just 15 businesses say they had an upturn during lockdown, while 4.9 per cent of those surveyed felt it had either no impact or failed to answer the question.

JO JAMES OBE

Redundancies Jo James OBE, Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: “This snapshot clearly shows the Covid-19 crisis has hit our economy hard. “The survey suggests more than 70 per cent of businesses have used the furlough system, with 25 per cent working normally or from home. “Thankfully only two per cent reported job losses to date. However, worryingly, nearly 90 per cent of firms reported future sales were going to be hit, with a combined loss of £52million, or an average of £33,500 per company surveyed. “There will be many now considering how to avoid making redundancies and we need to look at how we can continue to support our local businesses and help them restart.” Cllr Mike Whiting, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, added: “This helpline has been one of the stand-out local initiatives to support Kent businesses through this crisis, alongside the Government’s furlough and business rates

support grants. “The feedback from the helpline highlights the scale of the challenge we all now face as we restart the economy and strive to rebuild and recover.” The Covid-19 Business Helpline is provided free of charge by the Kent & Medway Growth Hub. Businesses can contact the dedicated team of six call handlers, backed by eight business advisers, each working from home, who can answer detailed enquiries specific to the individual business by telephone or video conference. The Covid-19 Business Helpline can be reached by calling 03333 602300. It is open 08.30 to 17:00, Monday to Friday and further information can be found at kentandmedwaygrowthhub.org.uk

Police Federation calls for tougher action as assaults on officers spike THE head of Kent Police Federation has backed plans to double sentences for people that assault officers after new figures show offences have increased by more than a quarter during lockdown. Assaults on officers across England and Wales have risen by 24 per cent in the four weeks to June 7, as the country has emerged from lockdown. The ‘worrying spike’ has prompted Home Secretary Priti Patel to announce her intention to double the maximum sentence for those convicted of assaulting emergency workers. Neil Mennie, Chairman of Kent Police Federation – the body which represents frontline officers in the county – has given his full backing to the move. He said: “Every week I see the figures here in Kent and behind each one is an officer trying to do their job and protect the public. 1,234 Kent Police officers were assaulted on duty last year. That’s nearly 24 a week. More than 3 a day.” He continued: “The numbers are still too high and the recent spike in particular with coughing and spitting assaults is disgusting. “A minority of individuals have sought to use this terrible pandemic to try to intimidate and threaten our colleagues. “One thing we can be sure of is that they will fail and be arrested – be it Covid-related or any other type of assault.

“This is a further important announcement from Priti Patel which will protect our police colleagues and indeed all emergency service workers.” The news comes after local MPs Greg Clark and Tom Tugendhat were among 16 local MPs who recently wrote to the judiciary demanding those that spat or coughed at police officers were instantly jailed. The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 came into force less than two years ago and doubles the previous maximum jail sentence for assaulting emergency workers from six to 12 months.

Sentencing The Government has now indicated it will extend the maximum sentence again to two years. Mr Mennie added: “The Assault on Emergency Workers Act was long overdue and an important step in the right direction. “Officers must be fully supported when they are hurt or injured. The least our members can expect is a significant sentence handed down by the courts and it must be on a consistent basis. “The Crown Prosecution Service and Government have indicated their support, and we look forward to seeing the increase in minimum sentencing. This is another important step in protecting the protectors.”

JAIL CALL Neil Mennie


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Wednesday July 1 | 2020

Businesses survive but are warned of need to know plan for next year A TUNBRIDGE WELLS accountant has told how businesses could fold due to changes to the government coronavirus assistance. Darren Austin, Director at Synergee, says so far, the government’s cash help for local businesses has prevented any mass closures, but this could change as financial assistance ‘ramps down’. He said: “The big consensus locally, especially in the hospitality sector, is clearly they are suffering but at least their costs are being covered. “I’ve not heard of any businesses having to close so far, but as the government help ramps down this could change.”

Measures He says the first big change will come next month when employers will have to pay furloughed employees’ National Insurance and pension contributions, followed by a portion of their salaries in September and October. “When it ramps down, then we may see businesses close because they will have to pay staff costs themselves, so I think the government will have to introduce new measures, especially for the hospitality sector,” he said. Darren says the change to the two metre social distance to one metre+ is critical in helping pubs, bars and restaurants reopen, but further help is also needed as rules such as table service will only limit capacity. “If you can only serve half or a third of your clientele then we are going to see these businesses laying off staff,” he warned. “I think they will have to come up with another scheme especially for the hospitality sector or many businesses just won’t be able to reopen.” He also urged DARREN AUSTIN

businesses to plan for next year when many payment deferments are due. “There’s been a lot of help offered by the government to help with this crisis, not just the furlough and business rate relief, but also things such as VAT and PAYE deferment. “While these have been welcomed, this is money that has to be paid back in 2021 so come early next year these repayments will start, so

‘I advise clients to try to get an idea of what funds and cash flow will look like for next year, otherwise they could be in trouble ’ businesses need to have plans in place to make these payments,” he said. He continued: “What I advise clients is to try to get an idea of what funds and cash flow will look like for next year, otherwise businesses could find themselves in trouble.” For the self-employed, there have also been ‘winners and losers’ during the pandemic, with those able to claim on the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) often benefiting more than furloughed staff. “If you are on furlough you cannot do any work for your employer, but if you are self-employed and meet the criteria, you can still work while claiming SEISS

– so if you have lost only 10 per cent of your income, you will have received 80 per cent, up to £2,500, in the first three months, and another three months in August. “But there are those that have fallen through the net, such as those that only started selfemployment last year – for these people there is no help other than claiming some form of benefit.” But self-employed people have been warned that SEISS payments are taxable, so a third of the money could be clawed back in January 2022 when self-assessments are due. Darren says ‘by and large’ the government help for businesses has been positive. “People have been quick to criticise, but the level of support has been unprecedented, and it was distributed quickly, so by and large they have been able to help a lot of people.” Be he added that firms needed to keep abreast of the upcoming changes. “The situation is fluid, so my advice is to keep checking the government website, and if you have an advisor, make sure you are on their mailing list. “The situation is changing regularly so you need to make sure you do not miss out.”

FURLOUGH SCHEME TIMETABLE MARCH: Employers placed on furlough are being paid 80 per cent of salary by the government (capped at £2,500). JUNE 30: From yesterday, the furlough scheme was closed to new applications. JULY 1: From today, furloughed employees can go back to work part time. Employers will then be able to claim for the normal hours not worked by employees. AUGUST 1: Employers will have to pay employer’s NIC [National Insurance Contributions] and pension costs, while the government will continue to pay 80 per cent of employee’s salary. SEPTEMBER 1: The government contribution to the furlough scheme will reduce to 70 per cent [capped at £2,187.50], while employers will have to pay 10 per cent of the salary plus NIC and pension. OCTOBER 1: The government contribution will reduce to 60 per cent of the salary (capped at £1,875), while employers will have to pay the remaining 20 per cent of the salary plus NIC and pension. OCTOBER 31: Furlough scheme to end.


Wednesday July 1 | 2020

FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk

Virus brings out best in people but the town is still vulnerable Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark reflects on the last three months and how the town has coped during the toughest time we have all lived through since 1945, and what we can look forward to in the future

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NEWS

Celebrating 450 Celebrating years of legal450 years of legal excellence excellence

THE PANDEMIC IS NOT OVER

STROLLING through the town last Saturday, it was heartening to see the shops trading again and The Pantiles, which had been deserted for weeks, being enjoyed by people enjoying the sunshine while keeping a safe distance. Today’s return of the Times of Tunbridge Wells in print is another welcome sign of progress. And I can’t be the only one in Tunbridge Wells yearning for a pint of Harvey’s in a pub next Saturday. It has been a tough time for our community. Over 50 people have died of Covid in Tunbridge Wells and hundreds more have fought off the disease having been infected. So many people have suffered the distress of being parted from people they love at a time when they were most needed. But we have seen people at their best. The response of our local NHS has been inspirational. The Pembury hospital was transformed within days to have the capacity needed to treat the sickest patients, and doctors, nurses and support staff from all disciplines joined forces to work under intense pressure and saved many lives. Our local GPs, and health workers in the community, and our ambulance service joined up to be able to treat patients with other conditions while coping with the risk

of rampant infection. So impressive was the performance of our local hospital trust that it was selected to appear in a brilliant documentary on Channel 4 showing the extraordinary work that was done over the Easter weekend that marked the peak of admissions. The loving and caring staff who work in our care homes and domiciliary care have put looking after our vulnerable elderly people ahead of themselves that must never be forgotten.

Emergency And, as hard as the last few months have been, it would have been tougher still were it not for our fellow citizens who have gone to work to keep us safe. The supermarket and shopworkers, people who make and distribute our food, the bin men and women, and post and delivery workers, bus and train crews and our emergency services. They kept working when Covid was surging to help us survive. The police have done their job with good sense and judgement – shrewdly avoiding the missteps that happened in some other places. I’d like to thank the staff and members of our local councils - county, borough and parish - who mostly away from the

AS Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee of the House of Commons, I know that until we have a vaccine, we remain vulnerable. Local outbreaks of Covid are possible and if Tunbridge Wells is hit, we will have to go back to some of the restrictions of the last three months. But we have survived the initial onslaught. Only eight people are now in hospital with Covid in Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone – out of a catchment of about half a million people. And as the Queen foresaw in her wonderful broadcast three months ago, and in the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of VE Day, we can now meet again and look back on having got through, together, the toughest time our town has lived through since 1945. public eye, have been working flat out, day and night, getting food to vulnerable people, support to struggling business and helping bringing together a strong community response. Getting schools back has been a challenge, but I want to recognise the work of teachers and people working with early years children who have worked throughout – including during the Easter and half term holidays, to provide schooling and a safe place for our vulnerable children and those of key workers, and for all who have managed to teach at a distance to avoid what could otherwise be a lifelong blight on children’s lives. Journalists – including those at the Times – have performed a public service in keeping our community informed, keeping going even when revenue was non-existent. The community spirit of Tunbridge Wells has always been its outstanding strength and the response has been magnificent throughout. From citizen networks such as the Tunbridge Wells Self-Isolation Group that were formed when lockdown was imposed, to charities like Age UK and Nourish who have responded to meet the double challenge of much greater need and fewer resources. And in every road in Tunbridge Wells the thousands of individual acts of kindness and neighbourliness that have made people connected even when they were isolated. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank my small team for having worked flat out from early every morning to late every night helping me help constituents. Since lockdown began the number of people contacting us for help and assistance has trebled, with many people calling in heart-breaking circumstances, and I’m grateful for their resilience and commitment.

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Flo’s mum joins childrens’ cancer charity to give ‘valuable insights’ By Andy Tong A MOTHER from Speldhurst whose twoyear-old daughter died from a rare cancer has become a trustee of a national children’s cancer charity. Carolyn Jackson said she was ‘proud and honoured’ to have been appointed to the post at Neuroblastoma UK. She and her husband Rodney received widespread nationwide attention three years ago when they raised £312,500 to help fund their daughter Florence’s treatment in New York. More than a quarter of million pounds was raised for ‘Flo’s Fight’ in just 11 days but Florence passed away before the ground-breaking surgery could be carried out. Carolyn said: “Neuroblastoma UK is an amazing charity which I have supported since our daughter Florence was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2015. “When she passed away in 2017 aged just two and half years old, I became overwhelmingly passionate about finding a cure for this horrible disease. “To be involved in a charity whose primary focus is this, together with finding kinder treatments, is a privilege.” The money Florence’s family raised was donated to charities including Neuroblastoma UK to help fund research into the disease and support the Royal

Marsden Hospital, where she was treated. Carolyn, who has since raised nearly £3,000 by taking part in running events, added: “Florence has changed me - what she endured was horrific. “She continues to inspire how I approach my life and I am honoured to accept this role for her and all the other beautiful children affected by neuroblastoma.

Challenging “I am very much looking forward to working with my fellow trustees to help Neuroblastoma UK continue funding vital research and giving hope to so many families now and in the future.” Tony Heddon, chair of the board of trustees, said: “We are delighted to welcome Carolyn to our board. Her personal experience of neuroblastoma will provide valuable insights into the effect this disease has on children, parents and their families. “Her passion and commitment will ensure they remain at the forefront of our minds as we develop future activity at a particularly challenging time for our charity.” He said Neuroblastoma UK were predicting a fall of at least 30 per cent in voluntary donations this year due to the

PASSION AND COMMITMENT Carolyn Jackson and her daughter Florence coronavirus outbreak, “This could delay our funding of neuroblastoma research for next year and beyond,” he said. “Carolyn and our board play a critical role in ensuring we deliver on our mission to find a cure and fund vital research to develop more effective treatments for children.” To support Neuroblastoma UK and donate online, visit neuroblastoma.org. uk/urgent-appeal

Brooke bakes 89 cakes to celebrate great grandpa’s lockdown birthday A CARE home resident in Tonbridge celebrated his 89th birthday in style when his great granddaughter baked 89 cupcakes to mark the occasion. Bob Green, who lives at Barnes Lodge in Tudeley Lane, shared the bounty of the great bake-off with his friends and staff even though his family were unable to do so because of the lockdown. Twelve-year-old Brooke Murray took on

the marathon challenge, which included decorating all her creations, to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society. But Brooke and her family were able to see Bob from a distance - and explain why the home was suddenly inundated with cake. Brooke approached her mum Janice with the idea after seeing an advert on TV by Alzheimer’s Society calling on

CRUMBS: Brooke Murray with some of her huge batch of cupcakes; and with Bob before the lockdown

supporters to join their Cupcake Day fundraiser. Bob suffers from vascular dementia so it’s a cause that is very important to the family. Janice said: “We would normally be raising money through our work but Covid-19 has of course put a stop to that.

Caring “Brooke really enjoys baking and she has such a caring nature. I happily bought all the ingredients for her to be able to bake the huge amount of cakes. I am exceptionally proud of her.” Brooke said: “I am raising money for a charity very close to both mine and my family’s heart. Over the last few years things have changed significantly for my great grandpa and now he is well looked after in a lovely care home. “Despite his memory loss and severe

anxiety, he still remembers who I am, which makes me smile every time I visit. Even with his dementia he is generally a very well and healthy man.” She added: “This is a really sad and confusing time for him and the other residents so I thought I would try and do something special to cheer them all up on his special day.” Nicky Pett, General Manager at Barnes Lodge, said: “The idea is just fantastic, and to come from such a young heart is even better. “Having that cupcake delivery

cheered us all up and we are so grateful to Brooke and her family. She truly is a special young lady.” After her culinary treat, Brooke will also be putting in the hard yards by walking 89km, the equivalent of more than two marathons, to raise more funds. She has already completed two thirds of the trek and has so far raised in excess of £1,000 for the dementia charity, having originally aimed at a target of £50. To make a donation go to justgiving.com/fundraising/cupcakedaybrookemurray


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SCREENING PROCESS Ophthalmic surgeon Dr Mona Khandwala hosts a video consultation appointment

eight other departments. The Covid-19 crisis meant that the public was being discouraged from attending hospitals in order to protect frontline staff from infection. The total number of video consultation appointments [VCA] carried out until the end of May was 560, totalling 122.7 hours of consultation; 514 of those were conducted since the start of the pandemic. Jane Saunders, the Trust’s Programme Director for EPR and Digital Transformation, said: “The NHS has been working for some time to introduce digital technology to support patient care. “Covid-19 has highlighted how invaluable technology is and how we can utilise it properly within the Trust to benefit patients and clinicians alike.”

‘This will enable us to comply with social distancing recommendations, to maintain safety for patients’

Video appointments at hospital to keep patients safe and free up staff By Andy Tong MORE than 500 patient appointments have been done ‘virtually’ at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust [MTW] after a new video scheme was brought forward in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the long term Tunbridge Wells Hospital and its sister site in Maidstone plan to hold more than half of outpatients’ appointments over the phone or on a conferencing format. The service was first trialled in November last year for sexual health, but within four weeks of the lockdown starting MTW had extended it to

“Our forthcoming digital transformation strategy aims for outpatient care to continue to utilise technology by default and the use of video conferencing technology is a great step in achieving this goal.” She added: “As we return to normal levels of activity, we anticipate up to 60 per cent of future outpatient appointments will be carried out via phone or video conferencing. “This will enable us to comply with social distancing recommendations, to maintain safety for patients, and help us ensure we have sufficient staff for those patients who need to come into hospital for a face to face consultation.” Now the project also covers neurology, oncology, head and neck, women’s health, respiratory, orthopaedic, paediatric and cardiology, and it will be rolled out to include chronic pain, physiotherapy and speech therapy too.

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Rotary Club supports local charities with £9,000 of donations THE Rotary Club of Tunbridge Wells has contributed more than £12,000 to charities in the past 12 months, with three-quarters of that sum going to local organisations. These include Hospice in the Weald, Nourish Community Foodbank, homeless charities The Bridge Trust in Tonbridge and Porchlight, TS Brilliant Sea Cadets, Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex, domestic abuse charity DAVSS and supported housing project Chapter One. The club’s outgoing president, Hugh Wright, said: “Rotary is a worldwide organisation with over a million members, but our local engagement is an essential part of our contribution to life in West Kent, and we are proud of the support we have been giving in the local community for almost 100 years.” He added that the club had adapted well to the coronavirus lockdown with all meetings now being held via Zoom. But he said: “The club members are eager to get back to normal activities, raising money for local charities and engaging in projects which benefit people in Tunbridge Wells.”

CONTRIBUTION: Outgoing Rotary president Hugh Wright


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National News

NEWS IN BRIEF

Weekend expected to be like New Year EMERGENCY services are preparing for a weekend that could be as busy as New Year’s Eve when pubs reopen in most of England on Saturday. Police federation leaders warned that the public will be ‘out in droves’ on July 4, with one fearing a return to Accident and Emergency departments resembling ‘a circus full of drunken clowns’ at weekends.

Beeching rail bids FIFTY projects to restore railway lines and stations have entered bids for Government funding to reverse the Beeching cuts of the 1960s. Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said the schemes vying for investment include reopening the line at Ferryhill, County Durham, restoring the Consett-Newcastle connection, transforming the line at Newquay, Cornwall, and reopening Charfield station in Gloucestershire.

EasyJet job cuts BUDGET airline EasyJet is considering cutting more than 700 pilot jobs and closing its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports, according to union Balpa. The airline began formal consultation on its proposals on Tuesday after it announced last month it would reduce its workforce by up to 30 per cent. Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said up to 727 pilots are at risk of redundancy.

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Boris outlines his ‘New Deal’ plan to get UK back on its feet BORIS Johnson has announced a spending spree and a new ‘opportunity guarantee’ to help the economy cope with the ‘aftershock’ of the coronavirus crisis. The Prime Minister acknowledged that jobs which existed at the start of the pandemic may be lost forever but said the new guarantee would ensure placements or apprenticeships for young people. Mr Johnson promised his response would not be a return to the austerity that followed the financial crisis, but instead a stimulus package inspired by US president Franklin D Roosevelt, who led America out of the Great Depression with his New Deal in the 1930s. Mr Johnson returned to the theme of his general election campaign, pledging to ‘level up” parts of the country that had been left behind while London and the South East prospered. In a speech in Dudley in the West Midlands - a seat the Tories took from Labour - the PM promised to tackle the ‘unresolved challenges’ of the

NEW DEAL Boris Johnson talks with construction apprentices during a visit to Dudley College of Technology last three decades, highlighting problems in building, social care, transport and the economy. He acknowledged that jobs which existed in January ‘are not coming back’ after the coronavirus crisis, and the furlough scheme which has seen the state pay people’s wages cannot continue forever.

Leicester back into lockdown after failed targeted measures ACTION to slow the spread of coronavirus in Leicester over the last 11 days failed to work, the Health Secretary has said. The city has become the first area in the UK to be placed back into lockdown after a spike of Covid cases. From yesterday [Tuesday] all non-essential shops were ordered to close, and unlike the rest of the UK, pubs and restaurants will be prevented

from reopening on Saturday [July 4]. Schools in Leicester are also set to close from tomorrow [Thursday]. Matt Hancock said a range of targeted interventions over the last week or so - including working with factories that saw a spike in cases - had not managed to stem the outbreak. He said: “We have been monitoring it incredibly closely, we have put in extra testing units, some

In response ‘we will offer an Opportunity Guarantee so that every young person has the chance of apprenticeship or an in-work placement so that they maintain the skills and confidence they need to find the job that is right for them’. Promising to ‘build, build, build’ his way out of the crisis, Mr Johnson said he would slash ‘newtcounting’ red tape in the planning system to speed up delivery of infrastructure projects and homes. The announcements included: • £1.5 billion to be allocated this year to hospital maintenance; • More than £1 billion for a 10-year school rebuilding programme; • £100 million to be spent on road projects; • £900 million for ‘shovel-ready’ local growth projects in England during 2020/21. The Prime Minister acknowledged ‘it may seem a bit premature to make a speech now about Britain after Covid’ given events in Leicester, where a local lockdown has been imposed. of the schools in Leicester were closed already. “We also went into some of the factories and workplaces where there was an outbreak and we put in place measures. “These sorts of much more targeted measures have worked in other outbreaks. “So we’ve been taking this highly localised approach but unfortunately that targeted action wasn’t working in Leicester and that’s why we have taken this much broader measure.” People are also being told to avoid all but essential travel to, from, and within Leicester and should stay at home as much as possible. The city has seen 10 per cent of all positive cases in England over the past week.

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BUSINESS IN BRIEF

Shell slashes asset value by $22billion OIL giant Shell has warned that the value of its assets will be slashed by up to 22 billion US dollars (£17.9billion) as the impact of the virus weighed on sentiment. It predicted the write-down for the current quarter after lowering its outlook on oil and gas prices, which also comes amid a climate-focused review of its operation, after it laid out plans reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The British-Dutch firm predicted that it will book an impairment of between 15 billion dollars (£12.2billion) and 22 billion dollars (£17.9 billion).

Biggest fall since ‘79 THE UK economy contracted by more than first thought between January and March as the start of coronavirus crisis saw activity tumble 2.2% in the joint largest fall in 40 years, official figures have shown. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) had previously estimated a 2% drop in first-quarter GDP, but said the revision came after data now showed a record 6.9% plunge in March – the largest fall since 1979.

Flixbus to enter UK GERMANY’S biggest coach company is readying to launch in the UK later this week even as travel companies around the world struggle with the consequences of government lockdowns. Flixbus will run four routes, all starting in London, as it launches its first ever domestic routes in the UK, with extra precautions in place to slow the spread of coronavirus.

FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk CRACKDOWN Carrie Lam listens to questions during a press conference in Hong Kong yesterday [Tuesday June 30]

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Abortion at the fore in Whitehouse race

Fears for Hong Kong’s future as China passes security law CHINA has approved a contentious law that would allow authorities to crack down on subversive and secessionist activity in Hong Kong. The legislation had sparked fears that it would be used to curb opposition voices in the semiautonomous territory. Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong’s sole representative to the standing committee of the National People’s Congress, confirmed in an interview with reporters that the law had been passed. He said punishments would not include the death penalty but did not elaborate on further details such as whether the law could be applied retroactively. Mr Tam said: “We hope the law will serve as a deterrent to prevent people from stirring up trouble. “Don’t let Hong Kong be used as a tool to split the country.”

World News

The South China Morning Post newspaper and public broadcaster RTHK both reported that the standing committee had approved the law unanimously. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had declined to comment earlier in the day, while the committee was still meeting. She did say that once the law is passed, ‘the Hong Kong government will announce it and promulgate it for implementation here, and then I and my senior officials will do our best to respond to everyone’s questions, especially regarding the enforcement of this national law’. The legislation is aimed at curbing subversive, secessionist and terrorist activities, as well as foreign intervention in the city’s affairs. It follows months of anti-government protests that at times descended into violence in Hong Kong last year.

THE US Supreme Court’s first major abortion ruling since President Donald Trump took office has put abortion firmly on the agenda in November’s presidential election. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down a Louisiana law seeking to require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. For both sides in the abortion debate, it was viewed as a momentous test of the court’s stance following Mr Trump’s appointments of two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Both justices joined the conservative bloc’s dissent that supported the Louisiana law. But they were outvoted because Chief Justice John Roberts concurred with the court’s four more liberal justices.

Victory The ruling was yet another major decision in which the conservative-leaning court failed to deliver an easy victory to the right in culture war issues during an election year; one ruling protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment, and the other rejected Mr Trump’s effort to end protections for young immigrants. Now, anti-abortion leaders say there is an urgent need to re-elect Mr Trump so he can appoint more justices like Mr Gorsuch and Mr Kavanaugh. Anti-abortion activists swiftly made clear that Monday’s ruling would not dissuade them from continuing to push tough abortion restrictions through state legislatures. In recent years, several states have enacted near-total bans on abortion only to have them blocked by the courts.

Here for you, as we navigate a new way forward Joanna Pratt, senior partner at Thomson Snell & Passmore When Nicholas Hooper set up as a scrivener and document drafter back in 1570, little could he have predicted that four centuries later the firm he founded would still be going from strength to strength, let alone celebrating its 450th anniversary in the midst of a global pandemic! Although these are currently challenging times for all – with the coronavirus impacting every aspect of life – as a firm we have continuously adapted to change and helped guide clients through many difficult and uncertain situations over our long history. Today is no different. As lockdown starts to lift and we all adjust to this new reality, we’re working hard to support our employees and local communities and ultimately continue to deliver outstanding client service. We have been undertaking extensive planning and preparations to ensure that the health and safety of our people, clients and other key stakeholders is maintained. While we will be implementing a phased return to our offices in Tunbridge Wells and Thames Gateway, many of our staff are continuing to work from home, in line with Government advice. We have a well-established and secure home working programme, which has been allowing us to continue to deliver a high level of client service during lockdown. We’re committed to finding ways to ‘bounce back better’ as a firm, and to help our clients and local communities do the same. Although the pandemic presents many challenges, it has also given us all opportunities to learn – from implementing new technology to introducing more efficient working practices – and we’re determined to use these new learnings to help our clients navigate this new post-lockdown landscape. During these uncertain times, we appreciate that many clients will have queries and concerns. Our expert lawyers are always happy to help guide individuals and businesses. We’re still here for you, now more than ever.

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Education Special

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EDUCATION Times

Have lessons been learnt from online learning through the pandemic? One of the key areas of debate during the coronavirus crisis has been centred around the impact it has had on our children’s education. Eileen Leahy investigates the timeline of events and talks to two local educational establishments about how they have coped through this unprecedented time WHEN Boris Johnson announced in March that all pupils - with the exception of those whose parents were key workers or deemed as ‘vulnerable’ – would have to study from home in order to help stop the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus, history was instantly made. Never before had a government ordered schools across both the state and private sectors to close – not even during wartime. GCSEs and A Levels were cancelled as teaching staff and students across the spectrum found themselves in an unprecedented situation, suddenly having to set up virtual classrooms at home in order to respectively teach and follow a limited curriculum online. Up to eight million children in England have been homeschooled since March but a recent study carried out by the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) found that approximately 2.3 million children have not been engaging with virtual learning at all. The report, carried out in April, also found the average time pupils spent doing schoolwork at

home was 2.5 hours a day, with only 17% of children doing more than four hours of schoolwork every day. The IOE’s findings also noted the variability in the amount of schoolwork being done at home reflects existing regional and socioeconomic inequalities.

Limited Here in the South East, for example, 28% of children were receiving four or more pieces of offline schoolwork per day, compared with the countrywide average of 20%. The IOE study also revealed that nearly a third (31%) of private schools provided four or more online lessons daily, compared with just 6% of state schools. Another recent survey of 3,000 leaders and teachers in England’s state schools, carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in May, discovered that 90% of teachers believed a third of pupils were not

engaging with any work they had been set. The NFER study also found that limited or no access to technology was a problem for around a quarter (23%) of students. As a result of what many are now calling this ‘lost generation’ of school pupils, the government has announced a raft of measures in order to support students and teaching staff. They include a £1bn ‘catch up’ tutoring fund to help England’s children get up to speed on what they have missed while schools have been closed. The most disadvantaged pupils will have access to tutors through a £350m programme over the next academic year and primary and secondary schools will be given £650m to spend on one-to-one or group tuition for any pupils they think need it.

Last month Education Minister Gavin Williamson announced that all school pupils would return to school this September after a number of educational establishments opened their doors to Reception and Years 1 and 6 at primary and in Years 10 and 12 at secondary level. The latter two year groups would usually be sitting their GCSEs and A Levels early next summer but Mr Williamson announced on June 22 he is currently looking into whether they can sit them slightly later due to the Covid crisis. The Times will be examining how our local schools have approached the return of these key year groups in next week’s paper. But today we look at the broader issue of homeschooling and see how it has worked out in both the private and state sectors.

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How local schools are coping STATE SECTOR: James Blake, Vice Principal at

Skinners’ Kent Academy (SKA) tells the Times how homeschooling has been for SKA students

“FROM the start of lockdown students have followed their full lesson timetable. They have iPads as part of their learning tools, which meant we were able to make a very smooth transition to home learning. We originally set the work daily, but upon parental request we have now started to set all work for the week on Mondays.

questions when they are working through their tasks. Without the hard work of our teachers and support staff this would not have been possible. Our students have demonstrated great resilience and we have great pride in their success.” JAMES BLAKE

Flexibility This has given our families far greater flexibility to make studying from home work for them. We have also implemented ‘well-being Wednesdays’, a drop-down day where students partake in a range of enrichment and well-being tasks, such as baking with their family and learning Latin. It’s a chance for them to get away from their screens and spend time learning with loved ones. We have used media platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams in order to deliver face-toface learning when possible and have also recently implemented a direct messaging service through our online homework platform. This means students can message their teachers with

PRIVATE SECTOR: Ali Harber, Deputy Head –

Academic at Benenden School, shares the teaching staff and students’ experience of lockdown

“IT WAS Monday 9 March 2020 BL (Before Lockdown) when we ran our first (Microsoft) Teams lesson with several of my politics students joining from across the school site on their laptops. The ‘lesson’ was a demonstration in a staff meeting as to how we could use Microsoft Teams to continue to teach effectively despite not being physically together. Just four days later and following intensive training sessions run by technically adept colleagues, we spent a whole morning teaching through Teams to all our Sixth Form pupils. The vast majority logged on from their study bedrooms but others did so from across the world as several of our overseas students had already returned home. Webcams and microphones were passed around classrooms as colleagues swiftly experimented and adapted to the new model and students got used to ‘unmuting’ or heading off into their channels for small group collaboration work. Within five days our online learning system was up and running. Since then, our students have been brilliant in engaging with the new format, be it using Pear Deck to debate peaceful coexistence in the Cold War, delivering online presentations on capacitors in medicine, hosting webinars with visiting science professors, mastering the intricacies of Excel, practising drama monologues or critically developing tone in their online art work. From the outset of remote teaching we have been fortunate to be able to offer all our lessons as live ‘face to face’ teaching, with all lessons ALI HARBER

recorded so that students can readily catch up and re-watch if necessary. With all staff and students equipped with a laptop, this was an aspiration that was possible for us to deliver even with students as far afield as Malaysia and Bermuda. The shift online has of course brought its own issues such as tired eyes and aching necks. We have stuck to our academic timetable, although following a survey of pupils a few weeks into our remote learning programme, we shortened lessons to 50 minutes and compressed the teaching day so that we now finish at 4.10pm (rather than our usual 5.30pm).

Popular Almost our entire co-curricular programme moved online, including music lessons and yoga, with the girls rising to the challenge of remote debating and remote dressage. Most radically, we compressed all these lessons and activities into a five-day weekly timetable, thus removing one of the mainstays of a boarding education experience – Saturday lessons! Ambitiously, we have run a full-scale online examination system this term with staggered release times of papers for both our UK and overseas students. Less popular with students perhaps, but vital for staff to assess their learning as we seek to refine our plans for September. Thankfully, we now find ourselves in the happy position of being able to welcome a small number of students back on site, which has been a great success. The girls are continuing their remote learning (with the Year 12 getting underway with their UCAS applications) but on site with their friends, using the school’s facilities and being fortified by the excellent Benenden food. We look forward to welcoming the rest of our students back in September. The overwhelming consensus from girls, parents and staff is that the online learning has been first rate. It has been a remarkable undertaking. Thank goodness the academic theme for the year has been to ‘grapple with the new and unfamiliar’ – Benenden staff and students have successfully done precisely that.” Benenden has just announced that it will be introducing day boarders from September 2021. More details at www.benenden.school/day

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Letters

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Wednesday July 1 | 2020

And another thing… This is the page where you, the reader, have your chance to express your views or comments on what’s going on in our part of the world. We like to hear from you. You can email us at newsdesk@timesoftunbridgewells.co.uk or newsdesk@timesoftonbridge.co.uk or write to the Editor, Times Local News, Salomons Estate, Tunbridge Wells TN3 0TG

Calverley

NEW RANGE The top of town could become a different type of shopping destination

Observations on life and more important things

Selfish pay hike shows lack of care

‘Market Quarter’ area could help to encourage footfall in town centre TUNBRIDGE WELLS used to be a thriving and busy town, with many shops and attractions. However, things have changed for the worst in recent times. Thanks to austerity and a troublesome economy, budgets have been cut and many shops are either closing or struggling. Thankfully, things aren’t all doom and gloom; a coalition of concerned groups, including Tunbridge Wells Liberal Democrats, recently stopped the exorbitant Calverley Square project of a new theatre and office

Return of retail is made to measure I was impressed with the measures put in place by the majority of shops and by Royal Victoria Place [as the lockdown eased], particularly Fenwick who made an otherwise anxious experience feel quite pleasant. The one-way pavement stickers appear a bit of a waste of money, though, as most people seem to be ignoring them. Camden Road should be pedestrianised for a short time to make access to the town easier. Matt Goss, Via email

Helping us to keep our social distance Having seen Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council’s Action Plan for reopening nonessential retail and the newly installed signage and pedestrian behaviour, the town’s Green councillors are suggesting some supplementary measures. These aim to increase pedestrian space to enable social distancing to be maintained and improve the appearance of the town centre. 1. Suspend all loading bays in the High Street from 8am to 6pm to allow them to be used solely for pedestrians. This extra space would be advantageous especially at locations where we expect to see queuing for fast food businesses. 2. Introduce a ‘keep left’ pedestrian system with a central line on each pavement to act as a visual reminder to prevent residents wandering into each other’s paths. 3. Increase the number of waste bins in the town centre to cope with the rise in fast food waste. The bins have often been full or overflowing and a seven-day-a-week service seems sensible until circumstances change. 4. Install demarcation steel stud markers along River Walk to clearly outline a cycle route to encourage the use of a car-free means to reach Tonbridge station and the new cycle hub. This would tie in with the Government’s policy which mandates councils to introduce infrastructure to

block from coming into fruition, saving our town from ruinous levels of debt. Plans are also afoot to improve things further in the town. What I think would be helpful is to move the Farmers’ Market to Fiveways in the centre of town, to encourage footfall and to drive more people to Central Market and the surrounding shops. In fact, the top of town could be named the ‘Market Quarter’. Camden Road and The Pantiles are established areas of Tunbridge Wells already, so it’d be sensible to follow this pattern through. Rachel Sadler Via email encourage cycling. 5. Introduce a cycle route through the Racecourse Sportsground from Tonbridge swimming pool to Avebury Avenue following the footpath to encourage cyclists to use an alternative route to the narrow High Street. Mark Hood Green Party Councillor for Judd Ward, Tonbridge

We shouldn’t have to pay for damage I write regarding your article on the potential for an £8million debt at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council following the coronavirus. As the council Leader Alan McDermott and William Benson were holding a Q&A on Facebook, I decided to engage on the matter. I feel that any debt should be settled by the Tory government in line with its initial commitment but there is a high chance that will not occur. If this is the case and there is a debt, then the last thing the people of Tunbridge Wells need is a council tax hike. This will be a national issue but I find it extra insulting for the people of Tunbridge Wells, given that the council wasted almost £11million of public money not too long ago on the failed Calverly Square project. This recent sloppy and careless spending of public funds is all the more painful with the prospect of a debt that ordinary people will be expected to settle and when I asked, the council didn’t deny that this is the case. Whenever the council is spoken to about the wasted millions, it quotes audits - but audits are there to check the legality of spending, not the moral justification for it. I really don’t want to see council taxes rise here due to government and council failures and would like to apply pressure to help keep our council taxes down if possible. Mike Tapp Via email

Insensitive, callous, self-indulgent. I just cannot believe that Kent County Council [KCC] councillors can award themselves this pay rise, when so many across the county and country are suffering from the health, social and economic effects of coronavirus. Facing mass unemployment, rising poverty, and huge budget deficits, this selfish group show how little they actually care about the voters who elected them. I support any legal means of halting this. Hilary Preidel Via email Politicians at all levels are out of control. Just two years ago KCC voted themselves a 15 per cent increase. This comes at a time when many of us stand to lose our jobs. I do hope the people of Kent who vote for them wake up and smell the coffee. Please write in and let them know what you think of this. Peter Clout Via email

Now where were we before being interrupted... Oh yes, as we emerge from lockdown - during which time Calverley has been ‘required’ by management [Mrs C] to do his share of chores around the house - we asked him to share with readers the top ten lessons he has learned...the hard way!

OVENS and hobs get dirty and don’t actually clean themselves

HOOVERS can be really useful but have bags that get full

DOGS might be intelligent but cannot open cartons of food and feed themselves

COTTON jumpers, particularly favourite ones, always shrink a lot in hot water

FOOD does not just turn up on the doorstep and needs to be cooked

I’m actually quite appalled that given the environment and our state of finances that KCC’s councillors have had the arrogance to vote themselves a significant rise when so many people are struggling. Unbelievable. They work for us not themselves, no? Boris Skulczuk Via email When the Mayor of London takes a pay cut, there is no justification for KCC’s councillors increasing their salary, in my opinion. Certainly there is no justification for holding a referendum to increase tax - the referendum in itself will cost a lot of money to undertake. Roger Walsh Via email

LIDS on frying pans stop sausages spitting saving valuable cleaning time OTHER people, and this one was quite hard, like different TV programmes

NEIGHBOURS don’t take kindly to verbal abuse and are entitled to use chainsaws all day

Opposition councillors abstained...

SOCKS should always be paired on departure

There were a number of errors in your article about councillor allowances at Kent County Council. I took over as leader of the Liberal Democrat Group from Trudy Dean and became leader of the opposition at KCC in May 2017. Cllr Dean is deputy leader of our group. As leader of the opposition I will be entitled to receive an additional Special Responsibility Allowance [SRA] of £11,798.82. However, this SRA is split between Cllr Dean and myself, as previously agreed by the Liberal Democrat Group at County Hall. Neither Cllr Dean nor I are entitled to any additional allowances for attending committee meetings. It was also disappointing that you failed to mention that the opposition members abstained in this procedural vote. In accordance with the Independent Member Remuneration Panel recommendation, the increase in member allowances at KCC is automatically linked to the increase in staff pay which was agreed by KCC in February’s budget meeting. Rob Bird, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Kent County Council

from dryer which must be turned on

MEN have absolutely no idea about how to load a dishwasher so that everything comes out clean And one final thought: Calverley will never EVER again ask Mrs C what she has been doing all day at home. He’s just grateful he works in an office. So much easier. Chin, chin dear reader – and stay well!

We do our best to publish letters in full. However, the Editor reserves the right to edit any letter. Please ensure that letters do not exceed 250 words


Wednesday July 1 | 2020

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KINGSDOWN MEADOW, SEVENOAKS OFFICIAL OPENING Friday 3rd - Sunday 5th July from 10.00 - 18.00

Visit our official Open Event and receive a £10 Marks & Spencer Gift Card, see inside for details


SEE HOW FAR WE HAVE COME AT KINGSDOWN MEADOW RESIDENTIAL PARK

Times have been rather unprecedented and it has become more important than ever to ensure we have arrangement to look forward to. So, as we enter summer time we’d really like to extend an invite to our official opening of our latest development, Kingsdown Meadow Residential Park in Kent, so that you can see first hand just what a lovely place it is to call home. We know we’ve been open for a while now; it’s just a good excuse to celebrate what we’ve achieved. The park is looking beautiful with a great range of homes, our residents are establishing a friendly community and the landscaping envelopes the homes in the heart of the Kent countryside. Our four show homes are open for viewings and it would be appreciated if you could let us know if you will be joining us so we can ensure social distance and hygiene measures are adhered to - simply give us a call free on 0800 644 4499, option 1.

Furthermore, visit us between Friday 3rd and Sunday 5th July and you will receive a £10 Marks & Spencer Gift Card!

To visit our Official Open Event on Friday 3rd - Sunday 5th July call us FREE on 0800 644 4499 Visit serentiyparks.co.uk for more information


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IS THE MARKET BOUNCING BACK?

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Wednesday July 1 | 2020

Property Focus NEWS

Why more people are looking to leave the capital and escape to the country post the Covid lockdown Six weeks on from the reopening of the property market most local estate agents are reporting a surge in sales – and receiving plenty of interest from those wishing to relocate from London says Eileen Leahy ON March 23 the UK housing market was effectively put on hold for two months as part of the government’s efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus. Agents all over the country were told they had to stop carrying out face-toface viewings and close down their offices. And although many were still able to offer ‘virtual’ viewings online these did not really translate into sales. And so the property industry - along with most other sectors of the economy – ground to a halt. So, when a surprise government announcement came in mid-May saying estate agents could begin to trade again, as long as social distancing and safety procedures were adhered to, most

agents reported a notable spike of interest from potential buyers and sellers. Zoopla reported that demand for housing is now 54% higher than at the start of March, as ‘pent-up demand’ returns to the property market.

Boom Interestingly, it also said that London appears to be ‘lagging behind’ other regional markets in the post lockdown sales boom as buyers look outside the capital. Zoopla’s director of research and insight Richard Donnell commented: “Covid has brought a whole new group

of would-be buyers into the housing market. New sales in London are lagging behind as buyers look at commuting and moving into the regions.” So has this been reflected locally too? Natasha Firman, head of Winkworth estate agents confirms that it has: “The market has come back really strong. There is pent-up demand and supply from the pre-lockdown market, but more than this, we are now seeing buyer sentiment shift with a marked uptick of buyers looking to move out of London while they prepare themselves for a ‘new normal’ with working from being implemented for the medium to longer term.

Enquiries “Any property with a garden or outside space has seen a lot of interest and we have many credible buyers in positions to move quickly.” Bradley and Natalie Mackintosh who run independent estate agents Flying Fish Properties in Southborough also told us they’d been pleasantly surprised by the surge of interest in the market – and that the majority of potential buyers they’d met have been people looking to move down from the capital. “I’d say most of our viewers have been London based,” reveals Natalie. Simon Feld from Martin & Co has also experienced more calls from the capital. He told the Times: “There are definitely more enquiries from people wanting to escape central London.” Ross Davies, head of Knight Frank

Tunbridge Wells, confirmed that things are looking pretty good for regional estate agents right now: “According to recent Knight Frank research for markets outside London in the week ending 6 June, the figure was the highest it has been since May 2018 and was 14% ahead of the five-year average.” But Zoopla’s Richard Donnell warns this positive bounce back might not last for ever: “We still believe that this spike in demand will be short-lived as the economic

impacts of Covid start to feed through into market sentiment and levels of market activity in 2020.” Winkworth’s Natasha Firman is in agreement that the property market should be cautious as such a strong return might not be sustained in the months to come: “Any vendors out there wondering if this is a good time to go on the market, we would strongly advise you to move quickly and take advantage of this bubble before the end of the summer.”

POST COVID CRISIS PROPERTY MARKET IN NUMBERS • New sales agreed are just 12% lower and the number of new sales agreed has risen by 137% since the market reopened.

• Demand for housing is now 54% higher than at the start of March, as ‘pent-up demand’ returns to the property market.

• The average asking price of sales agreed in the last month was 6% higher than a year ago.

• The biggest boost to sales has been in higher price brackets, with the number of sales of £1m-plus homes 16% above early March levels.


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Following more than twelve weeks of lockdown, Tunbridge Wells town centre is now well and truly open for business SINCE March 23 when the government introduced strict lockdown measures, many of the town centre shops were forced to close. But since measures were eased on June 25, many of the town’s favourite shops have reopened their doors. From independent traders and the newly refurbished Royal Victoria Place shopping centre to The Pantiles, traders are welcoming back

shoppers and visitors. But due to the Covid pandemic, you may find visiting the town a little different than before. This handy four-page guide, created in collaboration with Tunbridge Wells Together – the town’s Business Improvement District – tells you all you need to know to make the most of your town…

KEEPING YOU COVID SAFE AS YOU SHOP

NAVIGATING YOUR WAY AROUND THE TOWN CENTRE

New measures have been put in place by the Council and many town centre shops to ensure everybody’s safety and to allow for social distancing.

Where there are narrow pavements not wide enough to ensure two-metre social distancing, there are one-way signs where you can walk up one side of the street and walk down the other – just follow the arrows and cross the road if you need to change direction. You will find these on Camden Road, Monson Road and parts of the High Street. Along the precinct, you will also see tape or other markings on the pavements to show areas for queuing shoppers where pedestrians should not walk.

THESE INCLUDE: ■ Red and white social distancing pavement signs indicating two-metre marks for queuing shoppers. ■ Blue and white social distancing pavement signs to ensure people keep a width of two metres apart when walking through the town centre.

PHOTOS: Rose Bainbridge

Support local business and make the most of your town

Four girls from the same household enjoying the town’s reopening

VISITING THE TOWN

■ Some shops have one-way routes around the store or separate doors for the entrance and exit.

■ Stores may also limit the number of shoppers that can enter at any one time to ensure social distancing can be maintained.

TRAVELLING TO THE TOWN CENTRE PUBLIC TRANSPORT Buses and trains have increased services as shops and businesses have reopened, but it is now mandatory to wear a face covering when travelling on public transport. People are also being encouraged to avoid buses and trains where possible, and to walk or cycle to the town centre if possible. CAR PARKS Nearly all of the town’s car parks have reopened with the exception of Meadow Hall. But the Council has introduced additional measures to support social distancing including: ■ Car parks no longer take cash payment except for those at the bottom of town that do

not have card machines installed. ■ Parking bays near to payment machines and pedestrian exists have been suspended to allow for social distancing. ■ Some pay machines have also been suspended.

FACILITIES The Council’s public toilets are open at Crescent Road Car Park, in Calverley Grounds (opposite the station) and at Royal Victoria Place shopping centre. There may be fewer cubicles and sinks available as normal due to social distancing, so there may well be queues.


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Celebrate Independents’ To mark the reopening of Tunbridge Wells town centre, and to coincide with the American Independence Day celebrations in the United States, shoppers are being encouraged to support their local independent businesses this July 4 MANY of the town’s independent businesses have gone through their most difficult trading period in history, with many forced to close throughout the Covid lockdown.

If we don’t use them, we risk losing them, so the Times and Tunbridge Wells Together are asking you to think about where you shop this weekend, and to support your local independent traders.

YOUR TOWN NEEDS YOU!

ROSS FEENEY

THE NEAR full closure of the local economy for the past three months has had the most profound and immediate impact on Tunbridge Wells. Traders have had to close their stores, office workers have had to work from their kitchen tables, and events and outdoor activities planned for the town have had to be postponed or cancelled altogether. Town centres across the country already struggling with high rents and business rates, changes in consumer spending and competition from online traders have been further challenged by a pandemic originating in a part of China few people had ever heard of. CLAPPING The chronology of what has happened is known to us all, and we’ve all had to cope with the lockdown and the associated challenges of work, family life, children and schooling whilst largely confined to our homes. What is perhaps not quite so well publicised is the resilience and fortitude of many of our local businesses. Retailers that were used to selling from their stores have been taking orders and making local home deliveries, restaurants have quickly changed their take away and delivery menus to better suit their customers during lockdown

(with many offering home delivery for the first time), and while bars and pubs have been closed, many have turned their business models on their heads and started offering online ordering and door-to-door service. The businesses of Tunbridge Wells have risen to the challenge, and collectively kept us fed, watered and supplied, and now it is your turn to thank them fully. We have rightly acknowledged the hard work and commitment of our NHS staff, care workers, and other front line public sectors teams, now it is time to stand up and acknowledge our business community. You have been out clapping for the NHS, now it is time to start tapping those bank cards all across town, and supporting our retailers – big, small, independent or national chain – to get the buzz back into Tunbridge Wells. Our retailers have gone to great lengths to prepare for reopening, and have been seeing a steady increase in visitors over the past few weeks. Now is the time to be positive about our town, put to one side any frustrations, and get behind our local businesses and shop local. If you don’t use them, you’ll lose them, so go out and get tapping!

Royal Tunbridge Wells Bid Chief Executive Ross Feeney


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Day this Saturday July 4 Your local traders appreciate your support

ROYAL VICTORIA PLACE WELCOMES YOU BACK TUNBRIDGE WELLS’ flagship shopping centre, Royal Victoria Place, has also reopened. But the newly refurbished shopping centre has also had to implement some Covid measures to keep visitors safe. To help maintain social distancing, Royal Victoria Place will be managing the number of shoppers entering the centre to make sure that everyone can reasonably maintain a two-metre distance, and it may occasionally need to temporarily shut or close off certain areas. A ‘keep left’ system is being implemented that directs how shoppers move around the centre, as well as allocating specific ‘in’ or ‘exit’ only entrances. SIGNAGE New signage has been installed throughout Royal Victoria Place to help everyone to follow social distancing guidelines. Enhanced hygiene and cleaning regimes are in place, with hand sanitising stations available to shoppers at key areas of the centre. Plexiglass screens have been fitted at all visitor desks, and some staff will be wearing PPE such as gloves and face masks. Access to the centre through Central Market will be via the Camden Road entrance only, but all other entrances and exits remain open as usual. RVP Manager, Nicky Blanchard, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Royal Victoria Place, however we’re not back to ‘business as usual’ just yet. “In line with the latest government guidance, we have put extra safety and hygiene measures in place and will be closely managing visitor numbers, so that everyone can maintain social distancing.”

MARK HARPER AND CHEF JOHN TUNBRIDGE WELLS’ local independent businesses have really appreciated your support during lockdown. Here is what some of them had to say: “As soon as the lockdown began, we started offering hot meal deliveries within a two-mile radius of the restaurant. “The support from our customers has been great, they have really supported us, and it’s been a pleasure to be able to continue serving them. “We’ve been able to keep in contact with regular customers, many of whom have a weekly order, and we’ve also had new customers order from us, and have said they will visit the restaurant when we re-open.” Mark Harper Rendez Vous Restaurant, Camden Road “During lockdown our online orders have really taken off, and we’ve been doing deliveries across Tunbridge Wells and further afield too. “Our daily balloon hotline for deliveries has been really popular, and it has been great to see all the positive comments on social media. “Our store is now fully open, and we’re looking

NICKY BLANCHARD Centre Manager at Royal Victoria Place

DAVID PODBURY forward to welcoming back friendly faces, and new customers who found us online, too. “Let’s get Tunbridge Wells fully reopened and get the buzz back in town”. Jeremy Waller Jeremy’s Home Store, Monson Road

ALEX GREIG AND STAFF

“It’s great to be back. With the help of Tunbridge Wells Together we’ve managed to re-open safely. “We’ve had so much positivity from our customers who seem to be even more pleased than us that we’re back. “Fingers crossed this feel good towards shopping locally

can continue if so, the town will soon be buzzing again.” David Podbury Pantiles Cameras, The Pantiles “We’ve had amazing support from our local customers throughout this, it’s been a real lifeline to be honest – the support through our online shop goes a long way to helping us get back open again at some point, so a huge thank you to everyone! “Now we just can’t wait to get back to operating normally again once it’s deemed safe to do so!” Alex Greig – Fuggles Beer Café – Grosvenor Road


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FOR pullout EVEN MOREby NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk Times Local News in association with Tunbridge Wells Together Beating Covid-19: Four-page

BID: working for local business during a crisis BUSINESSES in Tunbridge Wells are all part of the Business Improvement District [BID], and all pay a levy that goes towards supporting and promoting the BID area of the town. Tunbridge Wells BID is coordinated by Royal Tunbridge Wells Together, who have been working throughout the Covid crisis to support levy payers. Throughout the lockdown, the main priority for BID has been visibility – ensuring levy payers know BID is still working on their behalf and providing them with advice and support in whatever form they have needed it.

Summary During the early stages of lockdown, BID’s focus was two-fold – firstly, increasing its presence on social media, and secondly to actively promote retailers that were still open through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As part of this, BID created the hashtag #TWdelivers – to help businesses promote that they were still open – which in turn promoted the creation of an online directory – twdelivery. co.uk. BID has provided businesses in the area easy to read summary sheets that provided advice on

how and where to find information and advice on government grants and support, which were distributed electronically via our newsletter, and social channels. A private What’s App group for levy payers was also created to keep local businesses up to date with the latest Covid related changes. BID has also been in constant engagement with the Council and has conducted telephone briefing calls for local businesses alongside Greg Clark MP, chief executive of the Council, William

Benson, and other Council representatives. More than 120 businesses have taken part in each call, and BID has been very active in holding the council to account on a range of issues related to the lockdown.

RE-OPENING FOR BUSINESS AS we move out of the lockdown phase BID has been working with the council as part of the Covid-19 taskforce as a key stakeholder to re-open the town centre. A re-opening guide has been prepared to help levy payers to re-open safely as well as a popular YouTube video. BID also successfully lobbied the Council to reduce or waive parking charges across the town centre, and has been working closely with the local media, including Times newspapers.

REOPENING KITS FOR BUSINESS BID has created a free re-opening kit with a range of items available to all levy payers – social distancing stickers, queue management A-board posters, health and safety posters, sneeze screens for counter-tops and bulk buying face masks. To date over 2300 items have been ordered, from 95 levy payers – with the number increasing daily. To order yours, contact... ross@tunbridgewellstogether.co.uk


DA TO Y B

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Best BuysFOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk

Wednesday July 1 | 2020

This week’s best property buys… Estate agents were told in May they could start selling properties again after the government eased lockdown measures in order to kickstart the economy. Since then the housing market has experienced somewhat of a bounce – both in terms of buyers and sellers. Here are our picks of the week

Nevill Terrace Tunbridge Wells GUIDE PRICE

£850,000 CONTACT Savills, Tunbridge Wells, 01892 507 000 A handsome townhouse, masterfully renovated to create an impressive and stylish family home that’s recently undergone a transformative renovation. Nevill Terrace enjoys a very convenient position, located just beyond The Pantiles, and is a short distance from The High Street and mainline station. MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST:

n Accommodation arranged over four floors n Appealing period features include high ceilings, sash windows, wooden flooring, decorative fireplaces all completed to a meticulous standard n On the lower ground floor there is a light filled kitchen diner, utility room and family area n On the ground floor there is a reception room which could also be used as a study and also an elegant drawing room n Located on the first floor are two bedrooms and a cloakroom n The master bedroom features a cast iron freestanding roll top bath n Separate WCs are found on the ground and second floors n On the second floor are two bedrooms and a family bathroom n Outside there is a recently landscaped town garden which boasts both terraces and a lawn. n The rear of the house and garden are connected to the driveway through an ‘in and out’ garage.


Wednesday July 1 | 2020

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Calverley Park Crescent Tunbridge Wells GUIDE PRICE

£995,000 CONTACT Knight Frank, Tunbridge Wells, 01892 887166 A sympathetically restored and elegant Grade II Decimus Burton period town house showcasing character and style throughout. The house is arranged over four floors with well-balanced accommodation and benefits from a private area of colonnade and two parking spaces. The first floor balcony is large enough for a table and chairs and overlooks the communal gardens. MAIN POINTS OF INTEREST:

n 4 bedrooms: The master suite is located on the top floor and comprises an en suite shower room n 3 bathrooms which are all done to a very high standard n 2 reception rooms: the property’s elegant drawing room is located on the first floor n Open plan kitchen which connects onto a spacious and light filled dining room n Private balcony which has beautiful views over the property’s stunning external space n Communal Garden which can only be accessed by others living at Calverley Park Crescent n Private Parking: the property comes with two spaces


A SELECTION OF AVAILABLE SITES At SJD we specialise in the sale and acquisition of land and development opportunities, including commercial, residential and affordable housing sites. If you have a potential site, please contact us to discuss further.

Linden Barn, Coxheath Stunning plot with outline consent for 5 detached family dwellings

London Road, Southborough Consent for refurb & extension to provide 1 no. family dwelling & 3 no. apartments

96-100 Lee High Road, Lewisham Mixed use site with redevelopment opportunities STP

Wilsons Yard, Hunton Prior approval granted for 6 no. terraced dwellings in rural location

9 Nevill Terrace, Tunbridge Wells Consent for refurb & extension to provide 13 no. apartments

Wickham Road, Shirley Site with consent for 8 no. apartments on the outskirts of Croydon

Current Requirements:

We also offer these additional services:

STRATEGIC LAND

Architectural Services

HOUSING SCHEMES

Planning & Design

We have a retained client base who are actively seeking these opportunities, please contact us ASAP if you can assist with their search

Development Funding Legal Services

Please contact one of the team for further information on our sites or your requirements Amy Johnson

Stephen Donnelly

Samuel Donnelly

amy@sjd-projects.com

steve@sjd-projects.com

sam@sjd-projects.com

07766 108856

07739 514350

07548 023217

SJD Projects | 78 St Johns Road | Tunbridge Wells | Kent | TN4 9PH | 01892 579937


FOUR STUNNING SHOW HOMES OPEN TO VIEW at Kingsdown Meadow Residential Park

Oakgrove Waverton fully furnished, 2 Bedroom Home (40ft x 20ft) £265,000

Prestige Sofia fully furnished, 2 Bedroom Home (40ft x 20ft) £275,000

Prestige Buckland fully furnished, 2 Bedroom Home (40ft x 20ft) £250,000

Omar Ikon fully furnished, 2 Bedroom Home (40ft x 20ft) £275,000

To visit our Official Open Event on Friday 3rd - Sunday 5th July and receive a £10 Marks & Spencer Gift Card call us FREE on 0800 644 4499 Visit serentiyparks.co.uk for more information


VISIT OUR OFFICIAL SHOW HOME OPEN EVENT and receive a £10 M&S Gift Card

Find us at Kingsdown Meadow Residential Park

Romney Street, Knatts Valley, Sevenoaks, TN15 6XW

To visit our Official Open Event on Friday 3rd - Sunday 5th July and receive a £10 Marks & Spencer Gift Card call us FREE on 0800 644 4499 Visit serentiyparks.co.uk for more information


Wednesday July 1 | 2020

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ARTS & CULTURE LIFE & STYLE FOOD & DRINK MOTORING SPORT and MORE...

IN PRINT AND ONLINE SEVEN DAYS A WEEK timeslocalnews.co.uk

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BIKE ON OVER TO BEWL

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THE FUTURE OF THE FORUM

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STAGING A COMEBACK SOON?

We are sailing

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How the travel industry is coming out of lockdown Page 40

IT’S JUST NOT CRICKET


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Life&Times

Out & About

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out&about 7 days of activities

By Eileen Leahy

Welcome to our new leisure section which celebrates the many outdoor destinations we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep. From grand gardens to woodland walks – where will you go this week? AFTER many months of isolation following the Coronavirus outbreak, outdoor spaces are now more important for us than ever. Since lockdown in March put paid to all events happening in theatres, concert venues, community centres as well as a total ban on mass gatherings for weeks on end we’ve needed to access open spaces in order for our mental health and well-being. Happily on July 4 many of our

After being forced to close during the lockdown period many of our favourite places including National Trust properties, Hever Castle and Penshurst Place have now all reopened so here’s a low down as to what’s going on where:

last year welcomed over 38,000 tourists, will now have to book a date and specific time slot in order to access the venue. This includes its annual members too and is done in order to limit visitor numbers. To book visit www.hevercastle.co.uk

HEAVENLY HEVER One month ago exactly Hever Castle reopened its glorious gardens to its members as well as the general public. The former childhood home of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife, boasts 125 acres of glorious grounds and gardens people can enjoy once again - albeit under social distancing measures to ensure the safety of staff and visitors. Like many other places visitors to Hever, which

BOWLED OVER BY BEWL Bewl Water reopened its gates in May when the government announced people could take unlimited amounts of exercise during lockdown. Since then the 800-acre site has welcomed hundreds of people who enjoy walking or cycling around its picturesque reservoir. Strict social distancing measures are in place so those visiting the South East’s largest stretch of water can feel safe. Open daily from 8am to 7pm parking and admission costs just £5 per car. www.bewlwater.co.uk

BEAUTIFUL BEWL Enjoy this picturesque reservoir

SENSATIONAL SISSINGHURST Fall for this National Trust treasure

much loved galleries, museums and cinemas will be able to open again but for now it’s time get outside and enjoy all it has to offer. Luckily for us there are plenty of wide-open spaces we can access in the gorgeous Kent and Sussex countryside – but it’s still necessary to follow government guidelines so make sure you stay alert and keep to social distancing guidelines.

Wednesday July 1 | 2020


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Wednesday July 1 | 2020

Out & About

the 14th Century manor house will also operate a booking system in order to accept visitors so it’s imperative to book before heading over to the popular destination. On announcing it was reopening last month a spokesperson said: “We’re so pleased to be able to open our doors for the first time in what feels like too long! Thank you to everyone who shared photos and kind words, it meant the world to our small team.” www.penshurstplace.com PARK LIFE In addition to many local gardens reopening those a little further afield such as Hole Park near

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Rolvenden will also be welcoming visitors once again. It announced last month that it will be operating seven days a week – it had been open only two days a week as lockdown restrictions were eased. A spokesperson for Hole Park said: “The extended opening will allow more visitors to enjoy these spectacular award-winning gardens until the end of October. “As the lockdown measures continue to ease, we hope many more people will enjoy everything we have to offer. Our Coach House is providing filled rolls and quiche salad as a takeout option plus a range of drinks, cakes and Hole Park’s famous scones.” www.holepark.com.

PALATIAL PENSHURST Glorious grounds steeped in history NATIONAL TRUST TREASURES The National Trust reopened most of its gardens and gated properties on June 3. So now you can once again visit many of its local places of interest including Scotney and Bodiam Castles, Rudyard Kipling’s former home Bateman’s and Vita Sackville West’s stunning Sissinghurst Castle, which at this time of year boasts the most exquisite gardens to wander around. At the peak of the crisis The National Trust’s Director General Hilary McGrady commented: “The National Trust was founded for the benefit of the entire nation. Our role is to help people and nature to thrive, and we exist because millions of us share the belief that nature, beauty and history are for everyone.” www.nationaltrust.org.uk HEVER FEVER Explore this historical gem

PERFECTION AT PENSHURST This jewel in the crown of local stately homes is once again able to offer tours for visitors around its palatial premises. Like many similar historical tourist attractions,

GO ON A MINI ADVENTURE Hole Park in Rolvenden is now open

Of course all our local parks including Dunorlan and Grosvenor and Hilbert are now open to the public – with social distancing in operation – so there’s plenty to enjoy without having to pay or book. And as of next week many galleries, cinemas and museums will reopen so we’ll bring you all their news. Watch this space!

DO YOU HAVE BULGING OR UNCOMFORTABLE VEINS THAT HURT OR MAKE YOU FEEL EMBARRASSED? W

ith a quarter of the UK population suffering from various vein disorders, Bella Vou, Pantiles Clinic in Tunbridge Wells is now offering patients a quick and easy fix to the common problem of varicose veins that can cause pain, bulging veins, spider veins, swelling, swollen legs and skin ulcers.

D R MO FA RIS

Apart from the uncomfortable side effects, unsightly veins can cause sufferers to lose confidence and self-esteem but all those problems can go away with a simple one-hour, minimally invasive laser therapy procedure called Endovenous Thermal Ablation. “There is an initial consultation to review the patient’s symptoms while a colour Doppler ultrasound will be performed to map the cause of the varicose veins and exclude deep vein thrombosis,” said Dr. Mo Faris, a leading Interventional Radiologist performing cutting edge vascular and minimally invasive interventional radiology procedures. The Endovenous thermal ablation treatment is minimally invasive and highly effective treatment for varicose veins. The method deploys thermal energy to directly close the problematic vein and destroy them from the inside.

BEFORE

AF T E R

diagnosis of other conditions like fatty liver or thrombosis. They may also be associated with areas of thread veins on the skin. Early symptoms for varicose veins include discomfort, pain, swelling, swollen legs, heaviness, fatigue, burning, throbbing, itching of the skin, skin changes, skin ulcers and cramps. Looking to talk to an expert about varicose veins before committing? You’re in luck. A free Facebook Live event for people wishing to learn more about varicose veins or thinking about varicose vein surgery will take place on Thursday 9th July 1pm - 2pm. Facebook/bellavou This is an event designed to give you information about varicose veins, various treatment options and what the current evidence for the various treatments are. Anyone who suffers from varicose veins and wants to understand more about their condition and what options they have, should join us.

No surgery is required and the entire procedure can be performed in less than an hour under local anaesthetic.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL 01892 257357

Treating them quickly is imperative and could lead to an early

OR EMAIL EVENTS@BELL AVOU.CO.UK

B EL L A VOU MA RKET HOUSE, 45-47 THE PANTIL ES, ROYAL TU N BRI D G E W E L L S TN 2 5 TE

W W W. B E L L AV O U . C O . U K


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Music

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Wednesday July 1 | 2020

by Paul Dunton

The Forum

It’s time to face the music Times music correspondent Paul Dunton explains how the Coronavirus crisis has impacted the local music scene – and reveals the latest on his Local & Live festival scheduled for August Bank Holiday

L

IKE many other industries across the globe, the live music events one has suffered immensely due to Covid 19 and the enforced lockdown. One of the saddest aspects is that many cherished live music venues around the country have been lost for good as a result of having to close their doors indefinitely. However, through these troubled times there have been some heartwarming stories of musicians and venues working together to help raise much needed funds via live streaming concerts utilising platforms such as Zoom, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. One fantastic example of this was punk folk musician Frank Turner’s online fundraising show WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH LOCAL & LIVE? The reality is that it is going to be some time before live gigs come back and on that subject we are still deliberating on what to do about this year’s Local & Live Music Festival which is currently scheduled for the August Bank Holiday weekend (28-31). We may of course have to come up with an alternate format and plan for the event, depending on what is permitted as we reach the end of July and early August, and we will make an announcement in due course. HOW YOU CAN HELP SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL MUSIC VENUE: If you would like to help and support live music venues, The Music Venue Trust is a fantastic UK Registered Charity which acts to protect, secure and improve UK Grassroots Music Venues for the benefit of venues, communities and upcoming artists. You can find out more here http://musicvenuetrust.com/

for The Tunbridge Wells Forum on April 16. Like all other venues up and down the country, The Forum closed its doors in late March following the announcement of a nationwide lockdown. The team launched an exclusive Members’ Club to raise additional funds over the course of the pandemic, but as the situation escalated, it became increasingly clear that a far larger sum of money was needed to secure the venue’s future. It has been well supported via the #saveourvenues crowd funder campaign but you can still contribute if you haven’t done so at www. saveourvenues.co.uk Frank Turner’s live stream in aid of The Forum raised well over £11,000 in donations which proved to be a huge boost for the iconic venue’s team and

Local & Live main stage

volunteers - all of whom who work tirelessly all year round to celebrate unsigned music. But sadly it’s not enough to ensure survival so last week The Forum was one of 500 grassroots music venues to sign an open letter to the government calling for an emergency £50million of funding to allow them to ‘hibernate’ until October due to restrictions caused by Covid-19. At the time of writing The Forum, along with hundreds of other gig venues around the UK, is waiting to hear what the government’s plans are… Frank Turner

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT As I said, live streaming has proven to be a successful alternative platform for musicians to perform and engage with their fans and indeed reach new audiences. Here in Tunbridge Wells singer-songwriter, Fred Clark has been putting on live gigs in his front garden to regularly entertain his neighbours who in turn sit in their own front gardens cheering him on and enjoy listening to his songs. If musicians go down the live stream route as the likes of local acts The Charlie Rivers Band, Nick Stephens and Heyzeus all have done, they will often offer a donations or tip link which proved to be an invaluable source of income with physical gigs currently not available. And while the live stream ‘virtual’ gig does not have the atmosphere of a live venue show, it does allow artists to interact and connect with their fans in a unique way. The live comments feed is the conduit between artist and fan with the most common interactions tending to be song requests, however it is wonderful to see messages of goodwill, gratitude and gig memories being shared by both parties. Live streams are of course subject to stable WiFi connection, so there can be inconsistency in the viewing quality. However I think they carry an incredible importance during this lockdown period, particularly for grass roots music. But there is also something quite earnest and humbling seeing the likes of Coldplay’s Chris Martin playing a live gig completely acoustically from his bedroom in a tracksuit! Many musicians from across the globe have raised millions of pounds for various charities and causes via these live stream shows. It’s incredible to see such unity and solidarity during these troubled times.


arts

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Arts & Culture

37

How our local theatres are now getting ready to stage a comeback Lockdown saw the immediate closure of our much-loved entertainment venues and although museums, cinemas and galleries can reopen on July 4 an official announcement about theatres hasn’t yet been made. However some are formulating proactive plans as Eileen Leahy discovers

T

UNBRIDGE WELLS and Tonbridge are very fortunate to have so many fantastic culture hubs. From The Forum music venue to Trinity, EM Forster and The Oast theatres to the Assembly Hall and numerous art galleries, there’s plenty of places we can get our musical, theatrical, comedic or art fix. But since the coronavirus saw a nationwide lockdown of all these artistic spaces all of the aforementioned have remained shut. The good news however is that as of July 4 much of the cultural arena – cinemas, museums and galleries - will start to reopen therefore hopefully paving the way for theatres and music venues next. During this difficult time many have - like various small businesses been awarded grants to keep them going. But as the Times discovers, a lot of them have also used this unprecedented period to formulate firm plans for their survival. (The Forum’s are on p36)

EM FORSTER THEATRE

Life&Times

TRINITY THEATRE: Trinity Theatre has received several grants over the past three months to help them get through what they describe as a ‘devastating financial hit’. A spokesperson said last month: “With our doors temporarily closed, we have seen our normal self-generated monthly income reduce from over £100,000 to only a few thousand pounds. “This potentially devastating financial hit has required us to act fast and we have taken major steps to reduce operational costs in the short term. The utilisation of the government furlough scheme, as well as voluntary pay cuts taken by the remaining operational team, has been key.” They added that a chunk of significant funding has certainly come at the right time: “Pleasingly we have been recognised for our importance in the community and the work we do. We have been successful in several fund applications, receiving awards from Arts Council England [£35,000], BFI Film Hub [£7,000] and Kent Community Fund [£7,000]. “All of this has been tremendously helpful and has provided us with a chance to reorganise and plan for our eventual reopening.”

TRINITY THEATRE The spokesperson went on to say that the theatre and arts centre which was established in 1977 is currently looking at all options to get through the rest of 2020. The first sign of a return to normality is the launch of Trinity’s Kitchen & Bar, which will reopen in its gardens this summer. The theatre is also developing other creative incomegeneration approaches alongside a number of other grant schemes. “We will soon launch a ‘bounce-back fundraiser’ to help bridge the temporary drop in revenue, and to increase the safety net for the staff and organisation as a whole,” confirmed the spokesperson. EM FORSTER THEATRE: Tonbridge’s, EM Forster Theatre - which usually puts on an array of live theatre, comedy nights and popular

pantomimes - recently announced that it too was in planning mode for its return and would be hosting its first live performance this summer. In a statement to the Times its theatre manager Kat Portman Smith said: “While the theatre remains closed, and we wait for government guidance on how and when we can reopen, we have been working hard behind the scenes on plans and preparations for welcoming audiences and performers back to the EM Forster Theatre. “We are currently looking at two versions of our Autumn season, one which would include our usual mix of live theatre, comedy, music and school productions, and a socially distanced version which would feature National Theatre Live broadcasts, Comedy Nights in our main space and one or two person shows with a reduced audience capacity.” Ms Portman Smith added: “We are lucky to have a flexible space so we can bring audiences in from three different doors and remove rows of seating, and we will have robust systems and processes in place to make sure our audiences, and our performers are safe. “We know that the Christmas panto is a highlight for many families, and that now more than ever we need some light relief and panto magic. We are still hopeful of being able to stage a full pantomime but also have other ideas up our sleeve for an alternative version, watch this space!” She went on to say that in the meantime the theatre is excited to ‘hopefully’ have The Talentz performing a production, al fresco. “Hopefully they will perform their production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in our Library Gardens at the end of August. This was postponed from the theatre in April and has since been adapted to play outside with rehearsals continuing online. We cannot wait to have a cast and audience back!” THE ASSEMBLY HALL: The Assembly Hall, which regularly welcomes everything from ballet troupes to household comedians such as Ricky Gervais and the Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra has said that it is not putting anything on until after the summer at the very earliest. “Currently we are automatically cancelling and refunding all performances up to and including Wednesday 30 September 2020. We will extend this by one week every week until we are in a position to reopen. We hope to welcome everyone back soon.” Let’s hope the curtain goes up for them – and all our other cherished culture venues – very soon. ASSEMBLY HALL


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food

38

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Wednesday July 1 | 2020

Life after lockdown: what has been the recipe for survival for our local restaurants, bars and cafés? After three months of being unable to trade directly to the public on their premises due to Covid-19 many of our much-loved eateries are now reopening their doors. Eileen Leahy discovers how they’ve kept going through the crisis

L

IFE for the leisure and hospitality industry in the UK dramatically changed overnight when all hotels, restaurants, bars and cafés were ordered by the government to immediately shut their premises due to the coronavirus last March. But in order to keep trading - and some semblance of income - many of Tunbridge Wells’ best loved independents had to think up clever ways to survive the global health pandemic.

Restaurants such as Rendezvous on the Camden Road and Zorba’s Mezze Grill on Upper Grosvenor Road turned their hand to offering customers takeaways – Zorba’s also provided free meals three times a week to NHS workers at Tunbridge Wells hospital when the virus was at its peak. Other innovative ideas included The Fine Grind coffee emporium launching a pop-up version of its popular High Street café at The Forum, ensuring that customers still got their caffeine fix despite the lockdown measures in place. Many local pubs and bars including The Grove Tavern and Fuggles, alongside Tonbridge Brewery have also been offering customers a ‘takeaway’ drinks service too in order to keep afloat through the Covid-19 crisis. Vittle and Swig restaurant on Camden Road took a different approach to most however, opening

up its kitchen in order to provide meals for the vulnerable and homeless courtesy of the Open Kitchens initiative. Last month Gerry Stevens who co-runs and owns the popular eatery with her partner Alex Blaber told the Times: “We have donated 100 meals to the Russell Hotel, who are providing accommodation to homeless people in the area. “We have had incredible support from our community, customers, friends and family and so far have raised £2,727.” Gerry also added that the pair had provided over 100 meals to the staff at the Tunbridge Wells hospital during lockdown. After feeding the needy, Vittle and Swig recently launched an instore deli

‘Now the government says areas of the hospitality sector can start to reopen it will come as much needed good news’ service and a Sunday roasts service too as part of their survival plan. Our town is usually buzzing at this time of the year with lots of events happening such as Jazz on The Pantiles and numerous specialist food and drink festivals so now the government says certain areas of the hospitality sector can start to reopen as of this Saturday (July 4) it will come as some much needed good news to those in our local hospitality industry. It’s fair to say that all this is a far cry from the carefree days of prelockdown when you could simply saunter into a café or book a table in a restaurant but it’s certainly positive progress. And we at the Times are very pleased to welcome back our friends in the food and drink industry and hope you will be able to support them too… VITTLE & SWIG


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Food & Drink

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The owner of two popular Pantiles establishments, Hattons Deli and The Wine Rooms, Daniel Hatton reveals how he and his team survived lockdown as well as their plans for re-opening on July 1 “Like all businesses it has been a difficult and a thought-provoking time. We took a little time to adjust, but we then got up and brushed ourselves off and began to think of ways we could still reach out to our customers who we knew still wanted a taste of Hattons and The Wine Rooms, and so our online store was born. “We started off in a small way, selling and safely delivering wines, hampers and BBQ and breakfast boxes – all of which have been a huge success. So we will now continue to increase the range and offer an online service when we reopen both of our sites. “Both The Wine Rooms and Hattons will re-open as takeaway businesses on The Pantiles on July 1st whilst taking every necessary precaution to keep everyone safe, including two metre distancing and a ‘one in one out’ policy. Our customers and staff safety is our number one priority. “We’ve always had a high level of food safety and cleanliness but to give our customers even more reassurance we are increasing our already high standard of our daily cleaning and sanitising. We will continue to follow all recommended government procedures and will be asking customers to make contactless payment where possible. “We are working on simplifying our much loved food options creating delicious takeaway dishes without losing what our regulars love: the freshness of the ingredients and the full flavour we pride ourselves on. “We have been working extremely hard behind closed doors and want to thank everyone for the support we have had, we look forward to welcoming you all back on the 1st!”

Make a date to visit Tom’s drive and dine TOM KERRIDGE has announced that he is bringing his new Drive and Dine Theatre event to Hever Castle this summer. Tom, who runs the Hand and Flowers and Coach Inn pubs in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and also the enormously successful Pub in the Park events has now offered an additional programme of summer epicurean events which puts social distancing and safety as a top priority. The Drive and Dine event is the first of these and the idea is to serve up a gastronomic and entertainment treat for families and individuals which can be enjoyed without having to socially interact with others. Happening across eight different locations in the UK including Bath and Chiswick, Tom’s Drive and Dine will pitch up at Hever Castle between July 14 and 19. Its aim is to ‘reignite the glory days of drive-in cinema screenings with a delicious twist.’ “Guests will be able to choose from an impressive selection of family films, iconic classics, and the latest awardwinning blockbusters, whilst tucking

into an exclusive menu curated by Tom Kerridge – all for you to enjoy with members of your household, in the comfort and safety of your own car,” explains a spokesperson for the new event.

straight to parking bays, visitors simply need to pull up, sit back and enjoy the show on the world’s largest mobile HD LED screen. Tom Kerridge said: “I am so excited to announce a great new event created to have a load of fun in a way that is safely suited to current times. “Come and eat some good grub, catch some quality movies, and make some new memories with your loved ones. It’s the perfect trip out of the house!”

Gourmet

In addition to the curated line-up of movies, visitors will also be able to book exclusive stand-up sessions from Mark Watson’s Carpool Comedy Club across the tour in all locations. With personal speaker systems provided for each car and food served

Films to be screened include recent blockbusters 1917 and Knives Out, along with family favourites such as The BFG and Aladdin. There will also be a few ‘drive-in classics’ including Grease, Back to the Future and Jaws. The current schedule at each tour destination can be found on the Drive & Dine website. Each screening costs £17.50 for adults and between £5.50 - £7.50 for children. Food served will include gourmet burgers, chilli vegan burritos and posh picnics with prices ranging from £4 - £15.


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travel

40

Travel

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Wednesday July 1 | 2020

Do we still have a global

future as tourists?

The coronavirus pandemic will change the way we travel, but as countries like Spain are now welcoming visitors – with other countries likely to follow – how will we do it? Sarah Marshall asks the experts

VIEW FROM THE TOP As countries open their borders we could start to dream of a summer holiday

S

EVERAL weeks ago, the idea of even stepping outside your local area felt like a fantasy. But slowly, as lockdown restrictions ease, the situation seems to be changing, and there’s a glimmer of hope it might be possible to enjoy a holiday this year. The situation, however, is far from normal. From beach breaks to escorted tours, the way we travel will look very different from now on. Some hotels, tour operators and cruise

‘There’s also the advantage that many holiday parks are situated in stunning locations, allowing you to get outside and enjoy the countryside or nearby beach, while still being able to maintain social distancing’ lines have already published details hinting at how we might navigate a new world of socially-distanced sun-seeking and ethical escapism. These are some of the trends starting to emerge: COTTAGES AND CARAVANS PROMISE PEACE OF MIND Although the race is on to squeeze in a summer holiday, it’s likely, once government advice allows, that most

people will choose to staycation. Along with self-catering cottages, demand for caravans and holiday parks is set to be high. According to Auto Trader, searches for caravans are up by 18% compared to this time last year. Hardly surprising given The National Caravan Council’s claim that caravans and motorhomes are ‘socially distanced by design’. There are no issues with shared facilities, they say, and camping lots are generally set five or six metres apart.

Lloyd Figgins, chairman of the Travel Risk & Incident Prevention (TRIP) Group, says holiday parks are a low-risk option for similar reasons. “With everything included within the four walls of your holiday park rental, your holiday can be as safe as being at home,” he says. “There’s also the advantage that many holiday parks are situated in stunning locations, allowing you to get outside and enjoy the countryside or nearby beach, while still being able to maintain social distancing.”

IT’S HYGIENE ON THE HIGH SEAS FROM NOW ON The return to normality is set to be tricky for cruise ships. The floating hotels have a history of upsets with virus outbreaks, and companies are having to work much harder to regain their customers’ trust. But many have already taken steps towards making their fleets as germ-free as possible. All passengers travelling on Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet will be given a touchless temperature screening every SAIL AWAY FROM IT ALL Many cruise companies are introducing strict hygiene and social distancing


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Travel

POOLSIDE PERFECTION After months of having to stay home tourists will be able to travel again

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antibody test upon arrival. An in-resort ambulance and 24-hour medical support are reassuring additions, while a mobile app will allow contactless room service, restaurant and spa bookings. GROUP TOURS SET TO CONNECT IN NEW WAYS An entrepreneur and philanthropist who started one of the world’s most successful group tour companies with nothing more than a vision and a credit card, Bruce Poon Tip is an agile thinker. Rather than dwell on the negatives of the pandemic, The G Adventures founder and CEO sees this as an opportunity to reflect upon and readjust the way we travel. “Why fight so damn hard to return to normal when the opportunity to transform travel is on the other side of this mess?” he says. He’s used his time in lockdown to write a free e-book, Unlearn: The Year The Earth Stood Still, detailing his thoughts. (Download it at unlearn. travel.) The future, he says, revolves around the power and privilege we have as travellers to make informed choices about where our money is invested. “At the moment, people are being sold amenities - the biggest ship, the biggest go track etc - and they are forgetting about the destination. This is no longer travel in my mind,” he writes. “The travel industry has made us into tourists, consumers of culture, rather

time they return to the ship and when entering dining areas. Capacity will also be limited to allow social distancing on board. Princess, meanwhile, have pledged to constantly monitor the global health map, cancelling stops and modifying itineraries if areas have been impacted by Covid-19 outbreaks. Self-service buffets will be heavily reduced and hand sanitiser will flow like water. River cruise company Uniworld has gone even further by discontinuing self-service snacks, removing all books and magazines, discontinuing buffets and introducing set mealtimes. TECH WILL REPLACE HUMAN CONTACT IN HOTELS As hotels across Europe plan to reopen, companies have adopted a range of new

ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY If you can’t get away this summer at least there’s plenty of places here to choose

measures to make sure their guests feel safe. Although reputable hotels already have high hygiene standards, new levels of meticulous disinfecting and scrubbing are set to become the norm. Groups such as Wyndham, who have an international portfolio, are working with Ecolab products specialised to prevent the spread of infections on surfaces, and have promised supplies of PPE to staff. Even smaller, family-run resorts, like Elivi Skiathos in Greece, are upping their cleanliness game: public areas will be regularly disinfected and online check-in will reduce face-to-face contact. OYO, who have properties ranging from guesthouses and B&Bs, to city-centre hotels, are introducing a new system of “sanitised stays”. Their plans include: removing excess furniture

‘At the moment, people are being sold amenities - the biggest ship, the biggest go track etc - and they are forgetting about the destination. This is no longer travel in my mind... The travel industry has made us into tourists, consumers of culture, rather than contributors to it’ from lobby areas to discourage guests from lounging; presenting disinfected room keys and TV remotes in zip-lock bags; and limiting lifts to one group of room occupants at a time. Ikos, who have luxury all-inclusive beach resorts in Greece and Spain, have designed a new Infinite Care Protocol. Staff will be regularly tested for Covid-19, and anyone staying at the properties given a free rapid

than contributors to it. From now on, he suggests we should take a different approach: “Destination and local people are key.” For that reason, G Adventures will continue to use local restaurants on their tours with options for “grab and go” boxes and al fresco dining. Affordable ‘My Own Room’ rates will also make it easier for solo travellers to avoid sharing.


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Motoring

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Wednesday July 1 | 2020

FIRST DRIVE:

By Jack Evans

WHAT IS IT?

The hot crossover market is currently quite limited. Yes, the base models themselves are hot property, but drivers seem happy with keeping them as practical run-arounds, rather than exciting daily drivers. Mini has been trying to buck this trend for a few years with its Countryman John Cooper Works - taking all the know-how of its JCW programme and adding it to the firm’s largest model. By combining the attributes of practicality and sportiness, can this be a remedy for petrolheads who need a bit more space in their lives?

WHAT’S NEW?

This new version of the Countryman JCW uses the latest version of the TwinPower Turbo engine setup that was offered before, with a few model-specific tweaks being made to suit this car even more. A new suspension setup’s also been added, while a sports braking system that’s also been tooled to suit this car has been fitted. The standard equipment has also been upgraded to include driving modes, the navigation pack alongside a 6.5-inch touchscreen and parking assistance, as well as other quality extras.

WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?

Here, the Countryman JCW utilises a potent 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that develops 301bhp and 450Nm of torque - a substantial leap over the previous model. With the help of an eight-speed automatic transmission and the All4 all-wheel drive system, this Countryman can get from 0-60mph in just 4.9 seconds before topping out at 155mph. That setup sounds punchy, and when you put your foot down, the JCW delivers. The throttle

FACTS AT A GLANCE: MODEL: Mini Countryman John Cooper Works PRICE: £39,525 ENGINE: 2.0-litre

turbocharged petrol POWER: 301bhp

TORQUE (NM): 450 MAX SPEED (MPH): 155 0-60MPH: 4.9 MPG: 38.7 - 40.9 EMISSIONS (G/KM):

188

response, especially in the sport mode, is excellent and it never feels like the turbochargers need time to spool up. Although efficiency isn’t the largest concern for those wanting a John Cooper Works model, the Countryman returns decent figures of between 38.7 - 40.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 188g/km.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

Despite sitting higher up than other Mini models, the Countryman JCW manages to offer an exciting driving experience without being overly unwieldy. Mini has been great at setting up sporty versions of their models for some time, and this is no different, as the steering is direct enough to allow for good turn in, and the weighting is again excellent - although sportier driving modes will add a little too much heft. With the JCW setup, body roll is very limited too, and the Countryman feels composed thanks to its purpose-built sports chassis that helps keeps everything in check. Add to that the sports braking system, and the Countryman JCW feels like a potent crossover that any keen driver would like to get behind the wheel of.

HOW DOES IT LOOK?

Let’s be fair, the Countryman is basically a photocopied Mini Hatch that’s now about 20% larger. But the retro touches that are used across the Mini line-up work well here, including the large headlights and familiar grille. The JCW treatment adds extra sportiness to the sometimes dull standard Countryman, with racing stripes off-setting the base colour usually red detailing against a lovely British Racing Green. The optional 19-inch alloy wheels are also a nice addition, but can compromise comfort over cracks and bumps in the road.

New Mini Countryman John Cooper Works

WHAT’S IT LIKE INSIDE?

Larger than all other Minis, you do get more space inside. Head and legroom for adults are good throughout, meaning if you’re after this as a family option it will do a great job indeed. You’re greeted with the circular hub that is at the centre of dashboard. It houses the touchscreen infotainment setup, which can also be controlled by the dial next to the automatic gear lever. There are a few sporty touches here and there, including the JCW steel pedals and dualmaterial Recaro sport seats that keep you in check when going round a corner a bit quicker than normal. For storage, the JCW copes well and people will have access to 450 litres of boot space, with little spots dotted around the cabin for smaller items. If all the rear space is needed, the folding rear seats can drop to reveal a 1,390-litre load space.

WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?

With the JCW, Mini bases it off the Countryman Sport before adding all the more dynamic bits and bobs. Standard kit includes sport suspension, the John Cooper Works body kit, sports exhaust and performance braking system, LED headlights, a Torsen mechanical differential and Mini Driving Modes. Inside, you also get the aforementioned Recaro seats, a sports leather steering wheel, steel pedals, cruise control with brake function and

two of Mini’s comfort-focused option packs. That brings the cost of the JCW to ¬£35,550. The version we tested also came with a ¬£550 British Racing Green paint job, Mini’s Navigation Plus pack that included Apple CarPlay and wireless charging, and a few other pieces to take the overall price on test to ¬£39,525.

VERDICT

The Countryman JCW may not be the most obvious family model around but it manages to make a typical crossover much more exciting than you might expect. The exterior design treatment makes it stand out straight away, while the potent performance when you put your foot down is very hard to ignore. The interior design, however, looks like you could be in any other Mini, meaning it isn’t the most special inside, while the looks may not be for everyone. But if you’re in the market for a family bahnstormer, then the Countryman John Cooper Works could very well be for you.


Notice under the Trustee Act 1925

ASHWAL GARAGE LIMITED The Motor Industry Pension Plan – Ashwal Garage Limited (72) Section Pursuant to Section 27 of the Trustee Act 1925 Motor Industry Pension Plan – Ashwal Garage Limited (72) Section was established with effect from 12 March 1978. Prior to 12 March 1978, the Plan was called the Motor Industry Pension Plan. Entrust Pension Limited (the Trustee) is the current trustee of the Plan.

Particulars of any claim should be set out in writing and sent to the contact noted below on or before 1 September 2020. If you fail to do so, Entrust Pension Limited will distribute the Plan assets having regard only to the claims and interests of which it has been given notice.

Ashwal Garage Limited was a participating employer in the Plan and went into Liquidation on 21 April 2017. Prior to Ashwal Garage Limited it was called Ashwal Limited

Notification is not required from individuals who are currently in receipt of a pension from the Plan, who have transferred their Plan entitlement to another pension scheme or arrangement or who are receiving correspondence relating to the Plan from Entrust Pension Limited.

Entrust Pension Limited has corresponded with all known members of the Plan and, in due course, the Plan will be wound up. Accordingly, it is of vital importance that any person having a claim against or an interest in the Plan and who has not received correspondence from Entrust Pension Limited should make themselves known to Entrust Pension Limited. You may have a claim against or an interest in the Plan if you were employed by Ashwal Garage Limited and/or Ashwal Limited or any of their associated companies, even if only on a part-time basis.

Particulars of any claims should be sent to: By Post: Quattro Pensions, Prospect House, Fishing Line Road, Redditch, Worcester, B97 6EW and be marked for the attention of Marie Hannis. By Email: info@quattopensions.com for the attention of Marie Hannis.


44

Life&Times

FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk

Books

The bookcase… Life in lockdown has given many the chance to fall in love with reading again. Here’s our pick of this week’s top tomes to enjoy…

Heaven And Earth by Paolo Giordano

9/10

Published in hardback by W&N, priced £14.99 (ebook £7.99). Available June 11

Fourteen-year-old Teresa watches from behind a curtain as three boys strip naked and dive into the moonlit waters of her grandmother’s pool. It is the year everything changed. The year those bland summers she once resented became the gateway to something hot and urgent spirituality, lust, jealously. Nicola, Tommaso and Bern - who Teresa will love for the rest of her life were raised as brothers on the farm next door. But though Teresa injects herself into their world, it will be years before she truly realises the twisted depth of their brotherhood. Bonded by shared love and resentment, the boys’ seemingly unequivocal connection holds them together as much as it drives them apart - leaving Teresa to interpret where exactly she fits into their story. Raw and evocative, Giordano’s Heaven and Earth is a breathtaking and poignant creation that will leave you itching under the skin. (Review by Scarlett Sangster)

The Sight Of You by Holly Miller Published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £12.99 (ebook £4.99). Available June 11

Joel has sworn off falling in love, but when he meets Callie he can’t help himself. However he has a secret - he dreams about the people he loves, and these dreams always come true. When he dreams about her one night, he must decide if he can stay, knowing how her

story will end. The idea is an original concept, beautifully written and completely convincing. Told through both Joel and Callie’s eyes, The Sight Of You is a heart-wrenching love story that steers clear of being overly sentimental or soppy. It’s a romance that even those who normally steer clear of the genre will also enjoy. Perfect for fans of The Time Traveller’s Wife and In Five Years, this bittersweet novel is one that will stay with you. (Review by Megan Baynes)

Published in hardback by W&N, priced ¬£16.99 (ebook £7.99). Available June 11

7/10

NON-FICTION

Published in hardback by Seven Dials, priced £25 (ebook £12.99). Available now Written by the daughter of Alice Waters, doyenne of Chez Panisse a Californian restaurant that changed the thinking about food being seasonal and local, with a focus on good ingredients rather than cheffiness. Waters promoted the farm to table way of eating and is an activist for good food in schools. This memoir is a series of vignettes or glimpses of Fanny’s life growing up living above the shop. Reading it, you’ll feel jealous of not being surrounded by the beauty her mother was able to create, or eating the delicious meals of her girlhood. There’s even a chapter

devoted to how her mother cut up fruit, and interspersed are recipes that remind her of particular people or situations, or even a feeling - but this is most definitely not a cookery book. It is more a hymn to the pleasures of life, with summers spent in the South of France and good friends equally passionate about food. From Fanny being swaddled in dish towels and set inside a huge salad bowl at the restaurant, to the dish that feels like home to Fanny and Alice, foodies will love the insights into what living in that extraordinary situation was like. But whether you’ll ever cook an egg fried in a spoon in the fireplace, or rose hip jelly, seems much more unlikely. (Review by Bridie Pritchard)

BOOK CHARTS

5. Becoming by Michelle Obama

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)

6. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

1. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

7. A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer

2. Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad 3. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo 4. Natives by Akala

8/10

Rolling Fields by David Trueba

Always Home: A Culinary Memoir by Fanny Singer

7/10

Wednesday July 1 | 2020

8. Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier 9. Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 10. The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford

David Trueba is highly regarded in his native Spain as a very successful novelist and filmmaker. His latest, Rolling Fields, spent weeks in the bestseller lists in Spain on its release in 2017. Now translated into English by Rahul Bery, it tells the story of Dani Mosca, a successful musician whose father has just died. The 40-year-old undertakes to accompany his father’s body in a hearse on a final trip back to his childhood village for internment there. The road trip becomes the pretext for a journey into Dani’s past, as he reflects on his relationship with his father, the revelation that he was adopted, the early years getting his band off the ground, conquests and relationships, heartbreak and tragedy. Not much happens in the present, so we are constantly thrown back into the past, much of which is a motley selection of anecdotage, pillow talk and hearsay. The style is light and readable, but somehow something gets lost in translation, and the book struggles to really hold your attention. (Review by Dan Brotzel) CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW

Do Grannies Have Green Fingers by Fransie Frandsen Published in paperback by Artfox.Bookwolf, priced £7.99. Available June 11

In this delightful book, Alexander overhears his mum saying his granny has ‘green fingers’, after she wins yet another gardening award. Intrigued, he keeps a look out for other examples of green fingers - and along the way notices some other colours (such as his redfaced neighbour when Tinster the dog buries a bone in the next-door garden). The illustrations are the real treat. Collages from Frandsen, made of photographs and illustrations, provide brilliantly fun and engaging visual narration. As they’re layered, there’s the chance to spot new and amusing items during future reads. Text is kept simple and is positioned on different parts of the page, helping to keep things interesting for young minds. A short reference to recycling, lots of potential to spot and name different colours, and a trigger to talk about what common phrases mean (green fingers, or green with envy) all allow for plenty of fun ways to learn. Although some of the colour references might at times feel a little tenuous (avocado bubble bath), this book will doubtless keep both parent and child amused and entertained with its quirky originality. (Review by Nicole Whitton)

7/10


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Numbers are substituted for letters in the crossword grid. Above the grid is the key with two letters solved. Try to complete the first few words to give you more letters, or look for a frequent number that might reveal a common letter. As you find letters, enter them in the key and into the grid. Cross off the letters in the A to Z list.

reception@salomons-estate.com

1 7 3 4 1

6 5 7 9

9 8 1 1 4 8

2 4 9 8 5

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To complete Sudoku, fill the board by entering numbers 1 to 9 so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains every number uniquely.

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© 2016 Syndicated Puzzles, Inc.

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LAST EDITION’S ANSWERS

SUDOKU & JIGSAW SUDOKU

DIFFICULTY RATING: ★★★✩

CLASSIFIEDS

Life&Times

Puzzles

In this Sudoku, the normal 3x3 boxes are now strangely odd shapes – but all the rules and logic of normal Sudoku apply. Fill the board by entering numbers 1 to 9 so that each row, column and box contains every number uniquely.

Puzzle solutions will be published in a forthcoming issue

O B L I Q U E H B O M B

A S E S J I I P E I N K A G E A V U I E S C E N T S X I L E S A N A A A D D I S P I F S S AMA I S N S Z E A T T I E

T I M E T A B L E

T E N E D E M I A C

R S I R A E O V WH E

R Y E I A R E N U S O A L O L I S A T

Sudoku:

5 6 8 1 4 9 2 7 3

1 4 7 3 8 2 6 9 5

3 9 2 7 6 5 4 1 8

4 2 5 8 1 7 9 3 6

6 1 3 5 9 4 7 8 2

8 7 9 2 3 6 1 5 4

7 5 1 6 2 3 8 4 9

2 4 7 3 9 5 1 8 6

3 6 8 7 1 9 2 4 5

7 1 9 8 4 3 6 5 2

9 8 6 4 5 1 3 2 7

2 3 4 9 7 8 5 6 1

Jigsaw Sudoku:

1 9 4 2 5 6 3 7 8

8 2 5 1 7 4 9 6 3

6 7 3 4 8 2 5 1 9

5 8 6 9 3 1 4 2 7

9 5 1 6 2 8 7 3 4

4 3 2 5 6 7 8 9 1

© 2016 Syndicated Puzzles

FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk

Wednesday July 1 | 2020


46

Life&Times

Sport

FOR EVENstories MOREto: NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.ukor newsdesk@timesoftonbridge.co.uk Please send sports newsdesk@timesoftunbridgewells.co.uk

Wednesday July 1 | 2020

Concern that cricket is running out of time By Andy Tong CRICKET: AS the football season leaks deep into the summer and golf clubs are back in full swing, cricketers are left wondering why they cannot stand around in a field preserving social distancing with some ease. Their cause was taken up by Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark in the House of Commons last week when the latest easing of lockdown restrictions was announced. After Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that pubs, hairdressers, cinemas and theatres would reopen, Mr Clark asked him if ‘the ban on cricket has come to an end’. “Cricket is perhaps our most socially-distanced team sport,” he said. “We’ve lost half the summer but there is another half left to be enjoyed by players and spectators alike.” A few days earlier Mr Clark had tweeted that it was ‘absurd that no cricket can be played this midsummer weekend’. Mr Johnson responded: “The problem with cricket, as everybody understands, [is] that the ball is a natural vector of disease, potentially at any rate. We’ve been round it many times with our scientific friends. “At the moment, we’re still working on ways to make cricket more Covid-secure but we can’t change the guidance yet.” The Prime Minister said at a subsequent press conference: “I want to make one thing clear: I would love to play village cricket again. I want to stress that we are working on all of these things.” The problem persists that so many fielders handle the ball, not least when it is returned to

the bowler after each delivery. And yet domestic international cricket is set to resume next Wednesday when England take on the West Indies in a home Test series behind closed doors. On Monday the England and Wales Cricket Board [ECB] announced that the county season can begin on August 1. England opener Zak Crawley has called for a rapid return for the recreational club game, saying: “I’d like to see that decision reversed to get community cricket back on. “The England players are well aware of it - we have friends who want to play. I feel like it’s time to bring it back.”

Resumption The Kent batsman added: “You can social distance easily in cricket. You can’t put saliva on the ball at international level - and you could easily do that at community level.” Mark Williams, chairman of Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club, told the Times: “It’s been very frustrating - but reassuring that Greg Clark has asked why cricket has not been able to start. “The Government and the England and Wales Cricket Board [ECB] have been very disappointing and although the game lends itself to social distancing, there has been a lack of clear guidance.” The town’s team play in the Kent Cricket League’s Premier Division but there is no start date set for a resumption of the county’s top competition. Mark added: “As far as I am aware, all clubs are very keen to start and the consequences for the

game in any continuing delay is concerning. “More importantly, the general well-being of those wanting to play a game where the risks are very low is also a cause for concern.” The ECB pointed out that ball sports like basketball and tennis had resumed and said it was ‘keen to see the imminent and safe return of our sport at recreational level’. “We believe that cricket is a non-contact sport, with very low risks of exposure, and that it can be played as safely as many other activities being currently permitted,” the governing body said in a statement. “It is our strong desire to work with Government to see the return of recreational cricket on or around July 4, as they continue to lift other restrictions more broadly across society. “We are heartened that the Government has already permitted the return of other ball sports, including tennis and basketball. “We are sure that our interpretation of the risks around ball transmission is consistent with these other games.” “We can confirm that any guidance we share with the game will include directions on how to mitigate any risk from handling the ball as we continue to prioritise the health and safety of the cricket family in all our decision-making.’’ According to the restart roadmap, cricket is in ‘step three’ of a five-stage process. The next step would see formats adapted ‘to remain socially-distanced’, before unrestricted play resuming when those requirements have been removed. Clubs have already resumed training but they are currenly only permitted to allow six players

to take part at once. Kent League administrator Brian Smith said of the Prime Minister’s clarification: “This is naturally very disappointing news to have received, especially as we felt progress was finally being made. “As it stands, we will await a further response from the ECB based on this news. I think they are in just as much ‘shock’ bearing in mind that provisional planning had suggested a return to recreational cricket from July 4.”

KENT LEAGUE STUMPED The league had proposed an option for teams across all five divisions to play each other once, rather than twice - the ‘half a season model’ but this idea has now been dropped. The reasoning was not only because of the restrictions remaining in place, but also because a significant number of teams decided to ‘opt out’ - seven first XIs and eight second teams. Brian Smith added: “Our proposed return to league cricket is from Saturday July 18, and this is likely to be amended further if we are unable to get changes made in the next week or so. “Going forwards, regional or local competitions are the only likely option for the back end of this season. For example, a return at the start of August could enable a six-week season to be staged which could involve a round robin group format and a finals day in September.”

Crawley hopes his gardening leave ‘will light a fire of energy under me’ By Mark Pennell CRICKET: THE last few months have seen people find many unusual ways to take exercise during the coronavirus lockdown but one England cricketer’s neighbours must have wondered what was on earth was going on. Zak Crawley has been warming up for the return of international cricket - by practising running between the wickets in his parents’ garden. The Kent opening batsman is hoping to resume his Test career against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton next Wednesday. The 22-year-old right-hander, who went to Tonbridge School, spent two months furloughed at his parents’ home before joining his England colleagues Joe Denly and Sam Billings training at the Kent headquarters in Canterbury. He said: “I’ve tried to keep busy with fitness, reading a few books, and [playing] many games of tennis with the family, but I won’t lie and say that lockdown has been a breeze, because it hasn’t. “I felt extremely bored through quite a bit of it, but that was part of parcel of the global situation that most people in the world found themselves in, so it’d be churlish to moan.” He added: “I think the strangest thing I found myself doing was measuring out a 20-yard pitch on the lawn and picking up my bat to practise my running between the wickets. “Anyone watching might have thought I was quite crazy, but I was that bored that I thought I’d should work on my turns and changing the bat between hands as you swivel around in the crease. It doesn’t get much madder than that, does it? “But, to be serious, I’m hoping that the lay-off will light a fire of energy underneath me. After spending all that time sitting around. I’m raring to go now and cannot wait to start playing again.” Zak made his Test debut for England in Hamilton, New Zealand last November, and then replaced the injured Rory Burns during the subsequent series win in South Africa.

Now he finds himself competing against Burns, Denly and fellow newcomer Dom Sibley for one of the top three batting positions. The rivalry is healthy given the problematic lack of runs that England have experienced at the top of the order for several years until last winter. “It’s great to see,” Zak told the BBC of the race for places. “I remember the Australia team of the early 2000s - some really good players didn’t get in that side and that is why they were so strong. “They had such good training environments, where everyone is always trying to improve, and it feels like we have something similar at the moment. We’ve got strength in depth and that’s what pushes you harder.”

‘After my first couple of Test knocks, I felt I had to start backing myself a lot more than I had been at the start’ Unusually, Crawley received his first England cap from Denly at Seddon Park rather than from a former England player, which is the usual custom. He said: “It was a really special occasion and I had no idea that Joe had been asked to do it. “The usual England way is to get an ex-cricketer working on the TV or radio commentary teams to do it, but to get it from Joe, someone I’d played all my cricket with up to that point, was tremendous. “After hearing his words, it ranks as one of the best moments I’ve had on a cricket field. He spoke so well. I never knew he had that in him, but it made a very special moment even more so. “I only played because of an injury the day before the game, so sadly there was no chance for my family to get out there in time for my debut. “I know they watched through the night on TV, and I spoke to them over the phone later on, which helped make it a great day.” In his four Tests so far, Crawley averages 27.33 with a top score of 66. “The New Zealand tour itself went well, I was just trying to be myself,

DRIVING FORCE Zak Crawley has a battle on his hands to retain his England place train hard and keep my head down,” he reflected. “Thankfully, I think they [the selectors] liked what they saw, even though my debut Test turned out to be a dull draw. “I’d made a good enough impression to get picked for the South Africa trip that followed and felt I’d started to play more like myself.” Crawley then started the tour of Sri Lanka in March by scoring a century against the Sri Lanka Board President’s XI in Colombo, before the trip was prematurely halted due to the pandemic. “It was frustrating to leave that tour early as the pandemic began to take hold, but it was the right decision to leave because the spread of Covid-19 escalated so quickly after that. There were no qualms from me about heading home. “As a young cricketer it felt great to be around that tour environment and be around such great players, to see how they train and prepare for big games. I loved every second with the group and the winter in general.

“After my first couple of Test knocks, I felt I had to start backing myself a lot more than I had been at the start. It’s hard to get in a positive mindset when you first go on tour, thinking maybe you won’t play to start with. “Both my first two Test appearances came through injury to other players, which was quite tough, but I felt that I had a little more time to prepare mentally in my last two Tests in South Africa and I felt I went better in those games. “I was a bit tentative to begin with, but you simply have to believe you’re good enough. That gives you the chance to put your best foot forward. “I was feeling in a good place when we came back off tour, my game felt good, so it has been frustrating to be faced with this lockdown. That said, the right decisions have been made in order to protect the vulnerable. “I’m just left hoping we can still play a good chunk of cricket this summer.”


FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk

Wednesday July 1 | 2020

Sport

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47

senior women. “All the players have applied themselves amazingly well and attendance at training has been excellent.” Several of the Royals made the step up into higher teams, with goalkeeper Bea Rowbottom playing for the Ladies’ First Xl in the East League Division One and earning a player of the match award. Harriet Sacker, Isabella Osborne and Annabella Curcher all represented the Second XI which won promotion in their league, while Alice Westhorp, Rachel McGee, Freja Holder, Daisy Clifford, Evie Pratt and Isabella Pavey played in the Third Xl.

Progression

REIGNING CHAMPIONS: (Back row, left to right) Lisa Boldrini (coach), Giorgia Hunter, Emily Pratt, Sarai Howkins (captain), Evie Pratt, Rosie Bignell, Harriet Sacker, Eloise Camburn, Isabella Curcher, Eve Houghton; (front) Millie Watkins, Freya Jones, Harriet George, Daisy Clifford, Freja Holder, Bea Rowbottom

Royals in command after first season of youth development

HOCKEY: LAST season saw a radical shake-up in Tunbridge Wells Hockey Club’s junior section, with two teams of talented young players taking part in senior competition. The club started a Junior Academy two years ago, which consists of around 45 players - both boys and girls - picked from age group teams from Under-13 to Under-16. But they wanted to bridge the gap between the Academy and senior sides so they revamped the Monarchs men’s side and started a new team, the Royals, for ladies.

These teams now feature the eight or ten of the strongest players under the age of 17 playing alongside three or four seniors. The Royals are coached by Lisa Boldrini, a club member for over 40 years, and they gained promotion in their first season. Lisa said: “I saw the need to allow all junior players to access higher level hockey at an earlier stage, thus allowing their talent to be recognised and give them access to senior teams with higher levels of coaching. “Tunbridge Wells also run a fantastic academy

All roads lead to Rome for Tunbridge Wells Under-12s RUGBY: TUNBRIDGE WELLS Rugby Club’s juniors walked, ran and cycled the equivalent of a trip to Rome in order to raise money for a local foodbank. The Under-12s raised £2,500 on their ‘virtual journey’ during the lockdown to support Nourish Community Foodbank, which serves the town and south Tonbridge. Nourish has seen a huge rise in demand during the pandemic and one of the young players, Hamish Weaver, was determined to help out. So he decided to run the equivalent of a marathon over the course of a weekend. When his team mates heard what he was doing, they decided to join him. The fundraiser developed initially into a virtual road trip to Brussels – where the squad had been due to go on tour before the Covid-19 crisis intervened.

The coach of the Under-12s, Martin Croker, said: “Hamish really wanted to do something for Nourish, who have seen up to a 200 per cent increase in referrals since the lockdown. “The rest of the team wanted to join in and make a positive out of the disappointment of not touring this season. “The players also got their parents involved in clocking up the miles and there was a real competitive spirit between the parents and kids.” That family rivalry meant the target to reach Brussels was rapidly achieved so the team decided to keep going and head for the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, a distance of 4,825km. Mike Rigby, the club’s chairman, said: “This is an amazing effort and the Under-12s should be really proud of the effort they and their parents have put in.

HATS OFF: Tunbridge Wells Under-12s before the lockdown

coached and led by David Judge which selects players from Sunday junior training and also gives these players access to the pathway to senior sides via the Royals.” She added: “The season has been incredibly successful with the Royals only losing to one side, which was a First Xl standard squad with an England player! “Promotion in their first season is a fantastic result for all concerned and all players have had so much fun winning tough matches and learning a new style of play against more

Senior player Sarai Howkins and Rosie Bignel were on top form up front and battled it out for the golden boot, with Rosie edging the prize for top scorer with 15 goals to the more experienced players’ 14. Lisa said: “A high number of these players have been identified to go into the First and Second XI training squads for next season, allowing the next generation to step up. “Progression to the higher teams is the priority of the Royals and the club prides itself on offering these opportunities to all players who commit themselves. “The side is captained by Sarai, who works tirelessly along with Carolyn Pollard to ensure the squad is complete, and liaison with the parents is crucial to know what is required every week.” She added: “Going forward into the 2020 season we will be appointing peer mentors to assist with any worries of the new players coming in. “This will ensure that the transition from junior to senior requirements are understood and confidence grows. “ Tunbridge Wells Hockey Club are keen to recruit coaches and players for their four Ladies sides. For more information go to twhc.co.uk


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Times of Tunbridge Wells 1st July 2020  

Times of Tunbridge Wells 1st July 2020  

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