Times of Tunbridge Wells 20th September 2023

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New SEND plan offers fresh hope

PLANS to improve special educational needs and disability (SEND) services in Kent are finally moving ahead. The welcome announcement that Kent County Council (KCC) has filled 80 muchneeded roles in its SEND services has come in conjunction with news that a new plan outlining changes necessary to support young people with SEND has been given the official go-ahead.

The Accelerated Progress Plan (APP) has been agreed by the Department for Education (DfE) and NHS England. The APP plans to tackle nine key areas of weakness outlined by Ofsted last year, while building long-term improvements into SEND provision.

Among its goals, the new plan seeks to address the widely held view among parents that some secondary schools are “not inclusive” and unwilling to accommodate children with SEND.

Another target identified is for 80 per cent of pupils with education, health and care plans (EHCPs) to be placed in mainstream schools by December this year. Key performance indicators require that 80 per cent of

Ardonagh and Markerstudy create major player in personal lines industry

THE Markerstudy Group, which has offices in Tunbridge Wells, and the Ardonagh Group’s personal lines broking business, Atlanta, have merged to create a major new insurance platform.

The combined business, which is subject to customary conditions (including regulatory approvals), will employ about 7,300 people across

the UK. It will provide a wide range of insurance products to millions of consumers, including home and motor insurance, transacting more than £3billion in annual gross written premiums (GWP).

The transaction will be funded by new investment led by London-based

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HEARTFELT HELP: The Hospice Run 2023 took place in Tunbridge Wells on Sunday September 17. Supporters ran for Hospice in the Weald in the new family fun run and half marathon, as wells as the classic 5k and 10k routes.

TW trains on track for cancellations but punctuality remains a problem

WITH 5,800 passengers streaming through its doors each day, Tunbridge Wells is the 181st busiest railway station in the country, but it has beaten the national average by recording only one per cent of trains being cancelled over the past six months. The UK average is three per cent.

According to the website On Time Trains, Tunbridge Wells placed 1,347 out of 2,633 stations, faring better than nearby High Brooms.

However, data also suggested there was still room for improvement. Only 54 per cent of trains were on time over the past six months. Forty-five per cent of trains at Tunbridge Wells were at least one minute late compared to 41 per cent of trains nationally.

Many of those who commute from Tunbridge Wells into London have expressed their displeasure at poor train punctuality.

Sharon Wood, an IT Manager who regularly travels by train to work, said: “It may only be late by a few minutes, but that often affects my waiting taxi.

“By the time the train arrives, my taxi has moved on to other appointments. I must then wait for another taxi, which holds me up by at least half an hour. That means I could miss the start of a meeting, which doesn’t look great – especially when I am asking my staff to be on time.”

However, train operator Southeastern has committed to improving waiting times for Tunbridge Wells residents. Scott Brightwell, Operations and Safety Director at Southeastern, said: “I would like to reassure customers in Tunbridge Wells and across the network that we are committed

to delivering a more reliable and sustainable service.

“We are working closely with Network Rail to improve both punctuality and reliability... Our joint performance strategy is targeted to improve those areas that have impacted Tunbridge Wells and elsewhere, such as track, signals, train reliability and trespass…

“We are now seeing improved performance on our network with almost 70 per cent of trains arriving within 59 seconds of their scheduled time, almost 90 per cent within three minutes and 99 per cent within 15 minutes.”

Mr Brightwell acknowledged train delays could be frustrating to commuters.

“If customers are delayed by 15 minutes we now offer automated delay repay to ensure customers can quickly and easily claim any compensation,” he said.

Weekend trains have seen a better performance, with 67 per cent of trains arriving on time. Sunday, it seems, is the best day for a visit to the town, with 7 out of 10 services rolling in on schedule. This data follows news that more than

680,000 responses were submitted to a consultation on proposals for a widespread closure of railway ticket offices, Transport Focus and London TravelWatch said. Concerns were raised by the public and ‘stakeholders’ around the impact on accessibility, safety and security, issues with ticket machines, and how stations will be staffed in future, the watchdogs said. As the Times previously reported, Tunbridge Wells Station is among those considered for closure, despite being one of the most used in the Southeastern network.

Transport Focus and London TravelWatch will analyse the proposals and consultation responses before responding to train operators by the end of October.

If the watchdogs object to plans to close certain stations, the operators can refer their proposals to Transport Secretary Mark Harper for a final decision.

Operators are bidding to shut nearly all station ticket offices in England. This follows pressure from the Government for cost savings following the drop in revenue caused by the Covid pandemic.

New SEND plan launches in Kent

Continued from front page

EHCPs are issued within the 20-week legal time frame. In June, this was just 13.2 per cent.

KCC has long been accused of not caring for children with special educational needs. In January 2019, Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission found “significant weaknesses” in Kent’s special educational needs provision and reported that parents lacked confidence in the services.

Last year, KCC bosses were forced to apologise to parents after Ofsted found that there had been insufficient improvements to the poor progress, poor standards and inconsistencies in educational health care that had been previously noted.

In March this year, the Council was put on formal notice to improve. With that, KCC risked losing control of special education needs and disability services unless it improved its ability and willingness to meet children’s needs, and for schools to accept SEND students.

The Government then agreed to give Kent a £140million bailout to pay off an overspend

on these services. In return, however, the budget needed to be balanced by 2027. The new APP is the Council’s response.

The APP will undergo an initial review towards the end of this year, when the DfE and NHS England will assess whether those measures put in place are working for children and their parents or carers.

Improvements

Rory Love, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, has been leading the work needed on behalf of KCC to make the improvements with partners in health and education over the past seven months. He said: “During the past seven months we have restructured our teams to give more focus to customer service.

“We have recruited permanent staff, reducing vacancies so far from 100 down to 20.We have been learning from other councils to understand how they provide their services successfully.

“I am determined that we deliver the actions in our improvement plan to provide the quality services children, young people

and their families have a right to expect from us,” Mr Love explained.

“Their views and experiences will continue to shape our improvements and they will be the judge of how we are doing in the months ahead as the impact of these improvements start to make a difference.”

Mike Walters, Chair of the Kent Association of Headteachers (KAH), told the Times: “KAH has been pleased to have representatives on the SEND Assurance and Improvement Board, and on a range of other working groups. The APP was co-constructed by colleagues from KCC, Education and Health. The APP is ambitious and illustrates a collective commitment to improve provision and outcomes for children with SEND in Kent.”

Jane O’Rourke, Director of Children’s Services at NHS Kent and Medway, also added: “We have a really important role in education, health and care plans, ensuring that health clinicians have input into those plans and are providing the right clinical advice for those plans to ensure that children get the right support when they need it.”

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NEWS IN BRIEF

MP’s new harassment bill becomes law

Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark’s Protection from Sex-based Harassment in Public Bill received Royal Assent and became law last night (September 19).

The new Act will for the first time make deliberately harassing women in public on the grounds of their sex a specific criminal offence.

The effect of this Act makes intentional sexual harassment in public places a specific crime and aligns the penalties available with those for harassment on grounds of race, sexuality and disability.

Mr Clark said of the Act: “I hope it will help drive a cultural change, rather than need many arrests.

“Everyone should now know that it is not only unacceptable to harass a woman in public, it is a crime.

“The police will know that they must take seriously women being followed or harassed. And I hope that more women will have the confidence to report such incidents, knowing that they will not be dismissed. As a result, women and girls will feel safer on our streets.”

New look for shopping centre’s Body Shop

THE Body Shop in Royal Victoria Place, Tunbridge Wells will be unveiling its new look on Saturday September 23.

The grand opening will take place at 10am to show people around the newlook store layout, complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The team will also be doing random acts of kindness throughout the day, giving away products.

Town is tops in county

TUNBRIDGE Wells is the only town in Kent to make it on to the Which? list of the UK’s best inland towns and villages to live in.

More than 9,000 Which? readers scored places they’d visited against six criteria, including food and drink, and shopping. Tunbridge Wells scored best for food and drink (4 out of 5).

Charity seeks trustees

A TUNBRIDGE Wells-based charity offering counselling and therapy are looking for new trustees.

Restore Counselling, Training and Related Services was set up in November 2015 to provide affordable counselling and therapy to children, teenagers and adults, with a bursary fund available for those without sufficient finances.

Although all applicants are able to apply, experience in finance and accounting, safeguarding, charity governance, fundraising, networking and counselling experience is particularly welcome.

For more information or to apply, mail info@restorecounsellingservices.org.uk

‘Cobble repairs are hazardous’

TRADERS in a Tunbridge Wells street are suffering the consequences of a decision made in the 1980s to resurface the road with cobbles. This has left an uneven, patched surface in the town centre’s Castle Street, which is a hazard to pedestrians.

According to old photographs, the cobbles in Castle Street were laid in 1987. Not only is there little history to the surface, but frequent holes form and it is hard to maintain, the landlady of Cassidy’s pub Zoe Rolandsen told the Times.

“With the last [pothole], they poured tarmac over the loose cobbles which were sticking up. It needs to be done [properly], one way or another – either with tarmac or cobbles. It needs to be fixed,” Ms Rolandsen explained.

Tarmac

Eman Correia of the Casa Café told the Times: “The tarmac starts coming out –they just throw tarmac in the hole.”

And he criticised the effect on pedestrians, saying: “People avoid coming here because of the state of the street. They trip and fall over.

Darren Bird of Castle Street Barbers said: “I’ve seen many people trip on the cobbles over the 15 years I’ve been here.”

It’s mainly the pedestrians who struggle,” added Ms Rolandsen. “We’re a pub, so we get quite a few girls in high heels, but it’s mainly the pensioners who have fallen.”

Anne Musker, of the Tunbridge Wells & District Access Group, also criticised the street surface, for both visually and physically impaired people.

“The ruts in the cobbles are not clearly outlined to help road users such as cyclists and visually impaired people to avoid them,” she told the Times. Regarding those in wheelchairs, she said: “They will feel every bump. People are entitled to go out and about without being in pain!”

Meanwhile, years of repairs have made the road surface higher, to the point that water running down the street can slop onto the pavement, especially on the Cassidy’s side, added Ms Rolandsen. Although Castle Street has not flooded for

three years, previous major floods –notably in 2015, 2017 and 2020 – hit the historic pub hard, and now, she said, “We’re no longer insured for flooding.”

With the road also sloping sideways, the drains on the ‘high’ side are not able to work effectively, said Ms Rolandsen, calling for a complete replacement of the road.

“It needs digging down to what it was, and [then] flattening.”

Yet it seems there is little hope of a comprehensive fix, or even changing the road surface.

Priority

A Kent County Council (KCC) spokesman stressed that safety was a priority and that it repaired problems when reported, prioritising and planning resurfacing according to risk, as set out in the Highways Asset Management Plan (HAMP).

But he said: “There are currently no plans to resurface Castle Street, Tunbridge Wells, but we will continue to listen to the concerns of people in the area and address them in line with the HAMP where appropriate.

“KCC has not received any personal injury claims relating to this particular stretch of road in the last five years.”

Of the recent roadworks (in May), South East Water’s Head of Operations in Kent Nick Bell said: “We’re sorry to hear that the reinstatement of the road surface has caused upset among traders in the area.”

However, he stressed: “In the event of reinstating the road, South East Water and

our contractors will do their utmost to match and replace all excavations with like-for-like materials. This is done by laying the original materials back in place or sourcing materials that best match the original aesthetics of the area.”

The street is inside the Business Improvement District (BID), where businesses with a rateable value above £15,000 pay a levy to the Royal Tunbridge Wells Together (BID).

Confirming to the Times that only Cassidy’s and Lago di Como were eligible for the levy, BID CEO Alex Green said: “We naturally focus our energies on BID members but we believe in a thriving business environment and are keen to ensure a more general thriving business community for all.”

He said the organisation was working on a project with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to design and then invest in an upgrade project of the public realm of the High Street.

“This project will consider Castle Street and potentially look to restrict the traffic for the street, creating a safer setting for pedestrians and businesses, potentially allowing for more outdoor tables and chairs,” Mr Green said.

BID was also looking to invest in enhanced street lighting for Castle Street, he added.

“Simultaneously we raise street maintenance issues as we become aware of them with the relevant authorities and will continue to support and advocate for any other improvements that will support to enhance the town.”

Ardonagh and Markerstudy create new group

Continued from front page

Pollen Street Capital and Bain Capital Special Situations. Ardonagh and its related parties will receive a combination of cash and a substantial minority equity stake in the combined business, along with two seats on the board of directors of the combined business.

Key Atlanta executives, including Ian Donaldson, Craig Ball and Emma Rawlinson will join the Markerstudy management team as senior executives of the combined group.

Kevin Spencer, Markerstudy Group CEO, said: “As existing business partners, we

have worked closely with Atlanta for a long time, and so we know first-hand just how exceptional the business and its people are. There are few deals in the market with the potential to be truly transformational for all parties concerned.

“A combination with Atlanta has been a long-term ambition of ours. The strong alignment in our models and shared values and ambitions simply could not be ignored. I’ve never been more excited for the future.”

Ian Donaldson, CEO of Ardonagh Retail, said: “ This transaction is a huge testament to our people, and we look forward to working with Kevin and his team to continue innovating and providing great

value to our customers.”

David Ross, CEO of The Ardonagh Group, said: “The Ardonagh strategy has always been to find and empower strong management teams, and to back their ambitions with a clear and relentless focus on equity value creation.

“This combination with Markerstudy is an important step in the Atlanta journey and presents compelling opportunities for its customers and people.

“We are very proud of what the Atlanta team have achieved since joining our Group in 2017 and look forward to continuing to work with Kevin, Ian and our new partners at Pollen Street to create a major new player in the UK insurance market.”

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COBBLED TOGETHER: The ‘hazardous’ road surface in Castle Street

Tree-felling project aims to boost health of flora and fauna

RUSTHALL Common trees suffering from ash dieback are to be felled at the beginning of next month. Commons conservators hope that the measure will be healthy for both the trees and for biodiversity.

Felling will start on October 2 along the back of Colbran Way, close to The Beacon and Langton Road, with workers cutting, temporarily stacking and then removing trees which had become unsafe, the Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons team announced.

Ranger Dan Colborne had warned at the beginning of the year that local ash trees were still suffering from the invasive fungus, which causes leaf loss and damage to the crown.

Both drought and heavy rain leading to saturated ground can accelerate the decline of the trees, he said in his January report.

The Commons officers organised this autumn’s felling programme after consulting with third-party experts and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s tree officer.

“Unfortunately, the spread of the disease has shown no sign of slowing and yet again we are faced with a large number of infected trees that need to be felled to ensure the safety of our community,” they said.

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Co-author of surgery sexual misconduct report to speak in TW

ONE of the authors of a landmark survey on sexual harassment, assault and rape of women working in surgery is to speak at a conference in Tunbridge Wells on September 28-29.

questioned had experienced forced physical contact for career opportunities (a form of sexual assault) versus 0.7 per cent of men.

again… we would never cut down trees unnecessarily.”

However, Mr Colborne stressed there were benefits to reducing the ash canopy, saying: “Roadsides are the perfect place for butterflies and other pollinators and Rusthall Common really is not short of trees.”

Commons General Manager Gemma Stapely said the conservation team now had evidence that a reduction in the ash tree canopy can help pollinator insects and boost the bat population.

“One of the better places to see bats is where we took down the trees last time [in Rusthall],” she told the Times, citing the Ranger’s most recent bat survey in the area.

The trees felled will be sent to a biomass power plant, contributing energy to the community, she added.

Professor Carrie Newlands, of the School of Biosciences and Medicine, University of Surrey, was one of 10 authors of a study, which combined a survey of 1,704 surgical staff – 51.5 per cent women – with NHS workforce data to examine experiences of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape over the past five years.

Misconduct

Women in the surgical workforce were disproportionately affected by “sexual misconduct”, according to the study, published in the British Journal of Surgery last week as the Times went to press. It found that 29.9 per cent of women respondents had been sexually assaulted, versus 6.9 per cent of men.

Meanwhile, 10.9 per cent of women

Professor Newlands’ conference presentation, “Sexual Misconduct in Surgery” has been sold out since September 2.

Dr Kate Stannard, co-founder of the Women In Medicine International Network (WIMIN) told the Times: “WIMIN have known about this investigation for over a year and we invited Prof Carrie Newlands to come and speak about it at our conference as we knew it would be published just before our event. “WIMIN have several aims: Providing a platform for women in medicine to be heard and to address difficult issues such as this!

“We also support women doctors in training and a charity, Advocacy for Social Inclusion and Girls’ Education (ASIGE), that helps women in the most marginalised communities in Northern Ghana through sexual health measures, education and employment.”

See WIMIN on Twitter/ X at @WIMIN _UK, instagram @wimin.uk and wimin.org

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PROFESSOR CARRIE NEWLANDS FUNGUS: A Commons ash tree marked for felling

Women’s boxing trailblazer to be honoured for pioneering work

NUTRIENT NEUTRALITY: RELIEF FOR HOUSEBUILDERS – OR SMOKE AND MIRRORS?

HOOKED:

Jamie Johnson continues to box and is deeply involved elsewhere in the sport

TUNBRIDGE Wells-based champion boxer Jamie Johnson is set to be honoured by the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame for her pioneering work in women’s boxing in the United Kingdom.

While many residents are familiar with Cllr Jamie Johnson, a Tunbridge Wells Borough Councillor for Broadwater (Lib Dem), Jamie ‘Rocky’ Johnson is a British titleholder and stalwart in women’s boxing.

A diminutive 5ft 2, Jamie began fighting at the age of 22 after hearing a radio advert for a boxing gym in London’s East End that accepted women.

Hammered

“My first match was only two months after I started to train,” Jamie said. “I really wasn’t fit enough then and I’d been living hard... They put me up against a 13-stone German girl called Dianne. I was only eight stone and she really hammered me!”

After a stint in London, Jamie needed somewhere to train in Tunbridge Wells.

“Initially the Tunbridge Wells Boxing Club was not allowed to accept women. Then a boxing gym in Pembury opened, run by Freddy Jacquin. He allowed me to train there with fellow top professional boxers Mark O’Callaghan and Calvin Stonestreet,” Jamie said.

From there, her boxing went from strength to strength. In a career spanning 40 years, what began with underground fights below pubs, culminated in Jamie becoming one of the first female boxers to compete on the first all-women boxing card in Britain on February 19, 1994. She went on to win the British

Local queen to star on Drag Race UK

A TUNBRIDGE Wells drag queen will be joining the ranks of drag royalty when she appears on the latest edition of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, which returns to our screens on Thursday September 28 at 9pm.

DeDeLicious will follow in the footsteps of another great Tunbridge Wells queen, Krystal Versace, who won Season Three of the show.

DeDeLicious, 20, has only been performing drag for a year and a half, but is already a seasoned professional, having worked in Los Angeles and Ibiza, and has appeared at the iconic London Palladium.

According to the BBC, although this will be DeDe’s first time on Drag Race UK, viewers have seen her handiwork before – she designed outfits for a number of previous queens on the show, including Krystal

WBIF Lightweight Title.

An opportunity to box and train in the United States followed, where Jamie sparred with and fought boxing greats like Laila Ali and Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, while gaining the support and friendship of the legendary Smokin’ Joe Frazier.

Upon her return from the US in 2007, Jamie became immersed in youth coaching.

“I became the Head London Coach for Women’s Boxing in 2007. Through this, I had the honour of being one of the coaches at the inaugural England’s women’s camp in Manchester, where one of the boxers was Olympic Gold Medallist Nicola Adams,” she said.

It was in recognition of the many years of dedication to women’s boxing that Jamie was asked to carry the Olympic torch through Sevenoaks for the London Olympics in 2012.

Over the years, Jamie’s passion for the sport has never waned. She continues to train with her coach, Tommy Kotrla of TK Boxing.

“It’s strange. At my age [60], I feel like I’m just getting better and better. I’m so much faster than I was a year or two ago.”

While Jamie is due to fly out to attend the ceremony at the Hall of Fame event in Las Vegas from October 6-7, a shortfall in sponsorship remains an issue, and the cost is prohibitive. Although she has been partially sponsored by Jim Litchfield Motor Engineers and ITS Limited, more support is still needed before she can step up to the podium to receive recognition for a lifetime of work.

Any business or individual wishing to sponsor Jamie Johnson’s attendance at this event can email jamierockyjohnson@mail.com

Nutrient pollution is an increasingly pressing issue for many freshwater habitats. In total, Natural England has now advised 62 local planning authorities that, where new development would have an adverse impact on a protected site, permission should be refused, unless the applicant can demonstrate nutrient neutrality. Government tried - and has now failed – to remove that obstacle to allow more housing development.

The extra cost of designing and building systems to dilute the nutrient load from a development is substantial. A developer must either provide acreage for new wetlands or purchase nutrient ‘credits’ for provision of the same, together with other development on a council-sponsored site. The cost of that is often excessive - so development is stalled.

But developers point to farmers as the real culprits through their widespread use of industrial fertilisers and pesticides, as well as emissions from existing wastewater treatment plants.

In a late announcement at the end of August (blaming what it rather curiously called ‘defective EU laws’) Government tried to make things easier for housebuilders. Changes to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill would direct local planning authorities to ‘assume that nutrients in waste water from proposed developments will not adversely affect habitats sites’. That proposal was rejected in the House of Lords on 13 September and, because it was proposed so late, it cannot be reintroduced in the Commons. How this default assumption of ‘no adverse effect’ could be justified was not made clear. But it points to a wider conflict between developers and the public in the housing debate.

The planning system in England focuses on mitigating harms from development – which it does via planning conditions and section 106 agreements. Looking at those harms in a wider context has some logic to it. But simply directing decision-makers to ignore them avoids the underlying problem that the system is overloaded and getting worse.

Providing relief to developers might be better achieved by tackling the sources of the existing harms, so that the problems caused by new housing could be more easily mitigated within the existing development control framework. That’s a less politically divisive solution to this aspect of our housing crisis – but perhaps a more sustainable one.

If you wish to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Bussell on email: OPB@COOPERBURNETT.COM or tel: 01892 515022

Versace.

a clown on stilts.”

As a performer who likes to combine glamour with silliness, perhaps DeDe has all the talent necessary to take the crown…

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WWW.COOPERBURNETT.COM Disclaimer: This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett LLP does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.
Of Krystal, DeDe said: “She’s sex on legs, I’m Picture: Guy Levy, World of Wonder/BBC

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Food bank issues urgent appeal for donations

A FOOD BANK in Tunbridge Wells has appealed for donations as the number of households needing help increases.

Nourish Community Foodbank is urgently in need of food donations due to a drop in stock levels and an increase in demand for its services.

Dawn Stanford, Operations Director said: “As you may be aware, over the past couple of years, Nourish Community Foodbank has not been receiving enough food donations to support the people in our community who are living in food poverty.

“Where we used to receive 75 per cent of our required food from community donations, this has now reduced to 25 per cent and we are now having to purchase

TAKING STOCK: Nourish Foodbank needs help

huge quantities of food to meet demand.

“We have seen unprecedented growth in the number of households who are struggling to put food on the table. 20 per cent of children in the Borough are currently living in poverty,” she added.

“Schools, places of worship and businesses in our community can help by donating food or money to help provide food parcels to those in need from September 10 to October 20.”

Essential items that are always needed include long-life milk, tinned goods, spreads, toiletries and cleaning products.

Nourish is happy to collect bulk donations. Please contact Gina at: office@ nourishcommunityfoodbank.org.uk

If you would prefer to make a financial donation to support Nourish, text HARVEST to 70560 to donate £10.

Local girls’ football team wins World Cup kit prize

FORESTERS Girls’ under-18s have won the final World Cup prize by Fusion Lifestyle as part of an initiative designed to empower and nurture grassroots women’s and girls’ football teams.

Sports and leisure charity, Fusion Lifestyle, which runs Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre, awarded seven prizes throughout the Women’s World Cup. They chose Foresters Girls’ under-18s as the final winner and have donated £500 worth of support or kit, tailored to their needs.

Gary Clark, the under-18s girls’ team manager, said: “The whole club are thrilled with the win. We have 25 girls registered in our team and we plan to spend the money on training tops to help the team feel connected and together, both at practice sessions and before matches.”

Nominations poured in from supporters of

the club and Foresters Girls’ under-18s were a firm favourite with the judging panel.

The club focuses on training 16 to 18-year-old girls – something the judges were particularly impressed with in light of Women in Sport research that shows that by age 17 to 18, just three in 10 girls would describe themselves as sporty, compared with six in 10 boys.

Foresters Football Club was established in 1984 and has grown to be the largest English FA community-affiliated club in Tunbridge Wells and one of only eight clubs in Kent to have a 3-star accreditation with the English FA.

The club has seven girls’ teams from under-9 to under-18 that make up part of the 896 registered players, along with over 70 qualified FA coaches, who are all volunteers, dedicated to developing local football talent.

Win tickets to Christmas at Bewl Water

BEWL Water, the largest reservoir in southeast England, is offering one lucky family the opportunity to win free tickets for their brand-new festive experience –Christmas at Bewl Water, set to open its doors to the public on November 18. Following the buzz created by the sale of hundreds of tickets online earlier this month, the chance to snag a spot for free has made the festive season even more exciting.

The magic continues right up until the most exciting night of the year, Christmas Eve, and tickets are priced at £40 per child and £15 per adult. Families now have a shot at winning them without spending a penny by entering Bewl Water’s competition on Instagram (@bewlwater).

To take part, simply follow Bewl Water, hit like on their Christmas competition post, and tag three friends. A bonus entry awaits if you share the post to your story. Hurry though, as the competition closes on October 4 at 12pm before the lucky winner will be revealed on October 6 via Instagram.

For those not plugged into social media,

you can also enter by sending an email to christmas@bewlwater.co.uk

Since the ticket release last week, sessions, especially those on weekends leading up to Christmas, are flying off the shelves. Families keen on securing their slot can visit christmas.bewlwater.co.uk.

The two-hour experience includes parking for the duration of the event and promises a bundle of festive activities, storytelling by Santa’s elves, themed magical lands, play zones, and an exclusive meet and greet with Father Christmas, where each child will receive an early gift.

Expect plenty of photo opportunities along the way, and recharge with seasonal drinks, sweet treats, and festive delights. When visiting Christmas at Bewl Water, be sure to allocate plenty of time to enjoy all the festive fun on offer before your booked moment at Santa’s Grotto.

Enchanted

Bewl Water invites you to arrive two hours prior to your Santa visit to take part in the activities, explore the enchanted wonderland and grab something to eat before meeting the man in red to wrap up the experience. On arrival, kids will receive their very own special stamp card that Santa’s elves will mark as they make their way around each activity. Dress warmly and wear suitable footwear since all workshops will be held outdoors under marquees.

The festive activities include a trip to Santa’s Post Office, creating reindeer food, visiting Mrs Claus’ Bakery, and diving into Christmas crafts. Also, look forward to live storytelling, a Candy Land sweet shop and plenty of souvenirs to take home.

Sunisa Avery, Events Marketing Manager, said: “We’re thrilled to introduce a brand-new Christmas experience to Kent and Sussex. The response since ticket release has been fantastic. We aspire to make this year truly special, with a little help from Santa’s elves, our woodland friends and the big man himself.”

FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk 8 NEWS Community News Wednesday September 20 | 2023
KITTED OUT: The Foresters Girls’ under-18s team
‘Since the ticket release last week, sessions, especially those on weekends leading up to Christmas, are flying off the shelves’
PIcture: SeventyFour_Shutterstock.com

Trekking couple raise over £7,500 for two local charities

A COUPLE who completed the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage earlier this year have donated their final fundraising total to two local charities.

John and Theresa Jenner from Tonbridge walked an average of 17 miles per day for 30 days and raised more than £7,500. The couple are donating the money to two charities: Taylor-Made Dreams, which supports children with terminal illnesses in Kent, Sussex and Surrey, and Ember Youth, which supports young people in Tonbridge.

Support

John had previously trekked to Mount Everest for Taylor-Made Dreams in 2015 with two others from his local rugby club Tonbridge Juddians RFC, raising £14,000 to help grant bucket list wishes for the charity’s children and provide support services for the families.

John said: “We were thrilled to be able to support Taylor-Made Dreams once again with this incredible challenge. We got to know Suzi and the charity well from my Everest [trek]. It is great to know that we are supporting unwell children and families in our local community

Pensioner from Tunbridge Wells completes the Great North Run

at such a difficult time.”

The Camino de Santiago pilgrimage takes place in Spain, finishing in Galicia. Walkers are encouraged to live a simple and modest life while reflecting as they walk. The Jenners were often walking at the same time as up to 800 other walkers on any one day.

Taylor-Made Dreams make dreams happen for children with life-limiting illness and provides the family with financial, emotional and practical support alongside their difficult journey.

The charity receives referrals from a wide range of institutions including Children’s Hospices, Clic Sargent, Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Cancer for Children Fund, Kids v Cancer operating at Royal Marsden Hospital, the County Council Social Services Disability Teams and schools.

AN 83-year-old runner from Tunbridge Wells who recently had hip replacement surgery completed the Great North Run in memory of her late husband.

Caroline Quibell, a retired children’s nurse, took on the half marathon on Sunday September 10 in honour of her husband, Michael, who died last October aged 81 after a seven-year battle with motor neurone disease (MND).

The grandmother of 12 ran alongside her eldest son, Toby, 56. She has surpassed her fundraising target, raising more than £3,000 for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation – a charity funding research into effective treatments for MND.

She has taken part in the Great North Run, which covers the 13.1 miles from Newcastle to South Shields, three times before.

The last time, in 2018, saw Mr Quibell cheering her on, but a combination of Covid restrictions and providing care for her late

husband has since prevented her from taking part.

Mrs Quibell trained around the parks in Tunbridge Wells, accompanied by her “best friend” Streak – her two-year-old Irish water spaniel.

“The children persuaded me to have a dog, which I’m glad I did because he is now my best friend,” she said.

“I run with him for an hour every day.”

However, preparing for this year’s Great North Run had been “a bit painful” after Mrs Quibell had a fall a week before her husband’s funeral, which required her to undergo hip replacement surgery in November.

Despite the setback, Caroline completed the Great North Run with a speedy finish time of 3 hours and 50 minutes.

You can donate to Caroline’s page at justgiving.com/page/carolinequibell-1689709306493

Community News NEWS 9 Wednesday September 20 | 2023 FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk #HolidayInspirations Show This SUNDAY 24th September 10am - 3pm FREE ENTRY - FREE PARKING WIN A CRUISE with Register at Sevenoaks School High Street, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 1HU Over 40 Tour Operator Exhibitors baldwinstravel.co.uk/events Sevenoaks - Cranbrook - NEW Haywards Heath - Lewes - Maidstone - Tenterden - Tonbridge - Tunbridge Wells - Uckfield
Picture: David Bartholomew/PA Wire THERESA AND JOHN JENNER MARATHON GRAN: Caroline Quibell and Streak

Local company stocking up to spread warmth for a second year

A PROJECT born out of the energy crisis, set up by a Tunbridge Wells-based company, is getting ready for its second winter supplying heated clothing and footwear across the British Isles and beyond.

Stay Warm Save Money, a subsidiary of MF Communications, began life last year in response to the energy crisis, supplying individuals and a few corporate customers with items including heated scarves, bodywarmers and heated insoles for shoes. “We wanted to find products to help people stay warm, and with some research we discovered items out there to heat the individual, not the environment,” Managing Director Gary Finch told the Times Despatching from their Tunbridge Wellsbased warehouse rather than from overseas ensured they could supply a complete package, including a rechargeable

power bank.

Stay Warm Save Money placed its order at the beginning of September and by the second week of October went live with a website, ready to sell and despatch.

“The time from idea to implementation was five weeks,” he said.

Most of the company’s customers have been individuals, aged 50 and over, but the company has also made some trade customer sales, such as a consignment of 40 units for the staff of a roofing company in the Greater Manchester area.

The company sold some 60 per cent of its stock last year, and has kept to the seasonal theme – offering advice on how to keep cool this summer.

However, demand has now started picking up again, even before their planned restock this autumn.

“We have already sold heated insoles and scarves in August,” said Mr Finch.

Tom is top fundraiser in high-wire act for cousin

A CROWBOROUGH-based electricity worker completed a high-level challenge by abseiling off London’s ‘Cheesegrater’ building in memory of his cousin.

As a linesman for UK Power Networks, Tom Rainbow is used to working at heights, but this time he had support from over 240 friends, family, colleagues and businesses, to become the top fundraiser in the Skyscraper Challenge on September 10.

Raising over £7,600 for Macmillan Cancer Support, Tom said: “Receiving vital sponsorship for such a worthwhile cause is incredibly satisfying because it will enable others to receive the support when they need it.”

Tom’s cousin Anna Vanns was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer during pregnancy last April and sadly, the family lost her four weeks later, leaving behind her husband and their three-week-old son.

Tom said he and the family had been overwhelmed by support and help from charities.

The brand-new Skyscraper Challenge saw Tom and the other participants run up 1,092 steps of the iconic skyscraper – just for a start. Then he kitted up in a harness and helmet, ascended to the 51st floor of The Cheesegrater, and abseiled solo over 200 metres – currently the UK’s highest abseil. He explained: “I was fortunate to be selected to undertake [the challenge] and

Singing banker adds X Factor to charity ride

NATWEST staff took part in a sponsored 700-mile singing ‘cycle ride’ in local branches last week, along with a former X Factor contestant.

Every NatWest branch across the country was raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust in its own way, but local staff chose a sponsored cycling and singing bike ride to Land’s End and back – though without leaving their branches unattended.

Fifteen local NatWest staff members, on Mount Pleasant in Tunbridge Wells and on Station Road in Paddock Wood, cycled in

relay all week to get in their miles.

The cycling singers in Tunbridge Wells included Christian Neroni, who was an X Factor contestant in 2005, along with his twin brother Adam. Christian is now a Senior Personal Banker with NatWest in Tunbridge Wells.

“We are raising as much as we possibly can and have set ourselves a target of £500 minimum,” said Helen Chapman and Annabel Prior, while pedalling.

The branches had hoped that Stonegatebased rock star Roger Daltrey, of The Who, who is an honorary patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust would drop by – and join in!

Social Media Specialist for local businesses growing through Instagram

was honoured to do so on behalf of such an important cause.”

Matt Mather, Relationship Fundraising Manager at Macmillan said: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to Tom, his family and all of his supporters who contributed to his amazing £7,600 total, making him the top fundraiser on the day. And what an incredible challenge on the hottest weekend of the year!”

“The money raised will fund our Macmillan nurses and Support Line and could pay for as many as 25 Macmillan Grants to help families like Tom’s and his cousin Anna’s when faced with a devasting cancer diagnosis.”

Tom’s fundraising page is at: justgiving. com/fundraising/climb4anna

I work with small & local businesses in and around the Tunbridge Wells area. I offer a personal & dedicated service to clients and provide a variety of supportive packages for those who want a helping hand kickstarting, growing, or overhauling their Instagram page and other social media channels. Whether you don't have time to focus on socials, or don't have the experience or tools to manage it yourself, I will take the time to understand your business and work with you to make it the best that it can be.

www.smalllocalsocials.co.uk

smalllocalsocials@gmail.com

FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk 10 BUSINESS Local News Wednesday September 20 | 2023
THE HEAT IS ON: Gary Finch wearing one of his heated jackets BICYCLE RACE: Christian Neroni with Helen Chapman (left) and Annabel Prior at NatWest in Tunbridge Wells Picture: Marathon-Photos.com TOM RAINBOW

Our seminar to assist family conversations about Inheritance Tax

Panoramic Wealth are hosting an event to help you protect your family’s legacy, reduce any Inheritance Tax liability and approach one of life’s trickiest conversations. Sometimes the hardest questions to ask are the most important. For many families, the topic of how the next generations will inherit wealth is often a taboo subject. The conversation is usually deferred to a time where it may be too late to act or potentially never addressed at all. The conversation to be had is typically between parents and children but has equal importance for couples who are unmarried or those not in a Civil Partnership.

Where are you with your conversations?

A typical reaction is that Inheritance Tax (IHT) won’t affect me or my family. In reality, the largest single beneficiary of an Estate is often not your family, or your favoured charity but HMRC.

Traditionally speaking, people find it quite difficult to speak about money. However, by engaging in conversation and forward planning this could avoid beneficiaries losing out on hundreds of thousands of pounds.

At our seminar (see details below), we will be looking to help you start that all important conversation. As such, our day would be suitable for all family members, be they grandparents, parents or adult children. We will be aiming to give you an idea on what is practically possible in IHT mitigation.

Make sure you are not sleepwalking into leaving an Inheritance Tax Liability that could have been avoided.

What is the extent of the problem?

Currently, married couples or civil partners can, in the right circumstances, pass on assets of up to £1 million to the next generation. However, with property values the

way they are, the value of a house alone can absorb this £1 million “threshold”. So, the family of a couple with an estate of £2 million could be faced with an IHT bill of £400,000.

Remember that passing on assets is not just about money. Much of these will be treasured assets or heirlooms that make up part of your family history. Most of these items will not be exempt from IHT and their values will therefore increase the overall IHT liability on your death, potentially needing to be sold to fund the liability.

So, what questions should you be addressing?

● How much IHT is your Estate likely to suffer?

● Have I left it too late to do any IHT Planning? (It is never too late to consider IHT planning.)

● What action can be taken now to increase the amount my heirs inherit?

● How long do I have to live for funds to be out of my estate?

● What issues should I consider before making lifetime gifts to the family?

● Can I give money away but still retain control and decide who benefits?

● Can I give away assets yet still enjoy access or income from them?

● Why is there likely to be a dramatic increase in IHT if you sell a private business?

● How are pensions treated for IHT purposes and how can they effectively be passed on to the next generation?

● Can I leave funds to charities and also benefit my other beneficiaries?

● Should I even think about giving money away if I might require later life care?

The seminar will be provided on a no charge basis. Its main objective is to provide you with relevant information on which you can make decisions. It will be hosted by Gary Jefferies, Chartered Financial Planner, and MD of his family-owned financial planning firm; Panoramic Wealth based in Tunbridge Wells. He will be alongside John Woolley, a consultant who has a number of legal and tax qualifications including being a qualified TEP, a barrister, a fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute and a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation.

Together, they will not only explain how it all works but highlight planning opportunities through a real-life case study. In addition to this, they will be able answer any questions you may have.

This will leave you in a position to understand how IHT works and, where appropriate, protect your Estate and greatly reduce the IHT your family will need to pay on your death.

Venue: Hotel du Vin, Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 2LY. Date: 9th November. Who should attend: Individuals, couples and families. Timings: 10.00 am Registration 10.30 am Start 11.45 am Refreshments & Questions 12.30 pm Close
register, please email us on journey@panoramicwealth.co.uk,
the
Panoramic Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FCA No: 705785.-The Financial Conduct Authority do not regulate tax or Estate planning. www.panoramicwealth.co.uk 10am, 9th November at the Hotel du Vin,
Road,
To
phone us on 01892 559555, or alternatively scan
QR code.
Crescent
Tunbridge Wells

YouTube suspends monetised Russell Brand content

YOUTUBE has stopped Russell Brand friom making money on its platform because of the rape and sexual assault allegations made against him.

The Google-owned company said it has suspended the monetisation of the 48-yearold’s channel because he was “violating” its “creator responsibility policy”.

The BBC has also announced it was removing some content from its iPlayer and Sounds apps which “now falls below public expectations”.

It comes as the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee Chairwoman Dame Caroline Dinenage has written to the BBC, Channel 4 and TikTok to request further details on what actions they are taking in response to the allegations, and to GB News in relation to their coverage of the claims.

Brand’s YouTube account, which has 6.6 million subscribers, has been suspended from YouTube’s Partner account “following serious allegations against the creator”, meaning the channel is no longer able to make money from advertising on the platform.

In a statement, YouTube said the decision applied to all channels that may be “owned or operated” by Brand, adding: “If a creator’s off-platform behaviour harms our users, employees or ecosystem, we take action to protect the community.”

The news comes after the remaining shows of Brand’s Bipolarisation tour were postponed and the Metropolitan Police said they had received a report of an alleged sexual assault in the wake of media

allegations about the comedian and actor.

A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC does not ban or remove content when it is a matter of public record, unless we have justification for doing so.

“There is limited content featuring Russell Brand on iPlayer and Sounds. We’ve reviewed that content and made a considered decision to remove some of it, having assessed that it now falls below public expectations.”

In separate letters to Channel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon and BBC Director-general Tim Davie, Dame Caroline asked for a timescale and regular updates on their internal investigation.

The letters also requested updates on the investigation being conducted by

Banijay UK, which bought Endemol, the company commissioned by Channel 4 to produce the Big Brother spin-off shows Brand hosted, into his behaviour while he was working on their programmes.

She added: “We urge both the BBC and Channel 4 to do everything possible not only to ensure that employees, contributors and suppliers feel safe at work, but also create an environment whereby people can speak out when procedures are breached.”

Meanwhile, TikTok’s Director of Government Relations, Theo Bertram, was asked in a letter whether Brand could monetise his posts on the video sharing platform, where he has

2.3 million followers.

Dame Caroline also asked “what the platform is doing to ensure that creators are not able to use the platform to undermine the welfare of victims of inappropriate and potentially illegal behaviour”.

Brand still has a presence on video platform Rumble, where his channel has 1.4 million followers and he hosts a weekly live show at 5pm BST, but there was no new episode on Monday.

Abuse

His most recent video on Rumble is the short clip from Friday when he denied the allegations against him, which were published the following day.

Brand has been accused of rape, assault and emotional abuse between 2006 and 2013, when he was at the height of his fame and working for the BBC, Channel 4 and starring in Hollywood films, following a joint investigation by The Times, Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches.

He has strongly denied the allegations, which also include claims of controlling, abusive and predatory behaviour.

His YouTube channel includes coverage of news stories, including alleged misinformation surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and being an outspoken sceptic of the vaccine.

Yesterday morning (Tuesday 19), The Times reported that several other women have since come forward with fresh claims about Brand.

12 NEWS National News Wednesday September 20 | 2023 FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk @TN1barkitchen BOOK NOW! www.tn1barkitchen.co.uk 01892 513900 Come and join us for festive fun with your loved ones, friends & colleagues - we can cater for tables of two through to large group bookings. CHRISTMAS
Picture: James Manning/PA Wire ALLEGATIONS: Russell Brand leaves the Troubabour Wembley Park theatre in northwest London after performing a comedy set

NHS consultants and junior doctors stand together in historic day of strike action

THOUSANDS of NHS consultants and junior doctors are on the first joint strike in the history of the NHS today (Wednesday 20) across England in a dispute over pay.

Junior doctors have joined consultants who began their strike yesterday (Tuesday 19). Junior doctors, who have held 19 days of strike action since March, will then continue their strike on Thursday and Friday this week.

Both consultant and junior doctor members of the British Medical Association (BMA) will again join forces for strikes on October 2, 3 and 4.

Thousands of operations and appointments have been cancelled as a result of the strikes, with NHS leaders warning that some patients are seeing their appointments rescheduled three times. It comes as the Government outlined plans to extend strike laws to ensure doctors and nurses in hospitals provide a minimum level of cover.

Meanwhile, the NHS Confederation, which

represents all NHS organisations, said increasing numbers of patients, including cancer patients, are seeing their appointments rescheduled more than once due to strikes.

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the organisation, said: “This is likely to be the biggest walkout the NHS has ever seen, will cause serious disruption, and put patients at the highest level of risk in living memory.

“Leaders are concerned that this dangerous situation is being underestimated by the Government, telling us that this feels much different and more complex than previous strikes, with most reporting greater difficulties in rota planning and having to cancel huge numbers of elective operations and appointments in advance.”

Downing Street said it was not “helpful to speculate” when asked whether Rishi Sunak was concerned that disruption from NHS strikes would put patient health at risk and lead to deaths.

Britain-India trade talks go on despite murder claim

BRITAIN is forging ahead with trade talks with India despite acknowledging “serious allegations” that the Indian government is linked to the killing of a Sikh activist in Canada.

Downing Street said yesterday (September 19) it is in “close touch” with Canada after its prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said New Delhi may have been behind the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The advocate of Sikh independence from India was gunned down outside a cultural centre in British Columbia in June.

India has denied being behind the murder, expelling a senior Canadian diplomat yesterday in a tit-for-tat move and accusing Canada of interfering in its internal affairs.

In the UK, Rishi Sunak was keen not to let the severe row between two allies get in the way of the post-Brexit trade deal he is trying to secure with India.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We’re in close touch with our Canadian partners about these serious allegations.

“It’s right that the Canadian authorities are looking into them. But I’m not going to get ahead of that work that needs to take place now.”

He said “that work on trade negotiations will continue as before”, arguing it is “important not to get ahead of the work that Canadian partners are doing” investigating the allegations.

The official said Britain raises concerns directly during trade talks, but added that “with regards to the current negotiations with India, these are negotiations about a trade deal and we are not looking to conflate with other issues”.

But he stressed it is “vitally important that a country’s sovereignty and international rule of law is respected”.

Downing Street said it is not aware of any plans to follow Canada’s move to expel a diplomat.

Mr Trudeau’s allegation has led to fresh scrutiny being placed on the deaths of prominent Sikh figures, with three said to have died unexpectedly in recent months.

One, Avtar Singh Khanda, a 35-year-old activist calling for an independent Sikh homeland known as Khalistan, died in Birmingham in June.

West Midlands Police said a review had concluded “there were no suspicious circumstances”.

FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk National News NEWS 13 Wednesday September 20 | 2023
Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire JUSTIN TRUDEAU AND NARENDRA MODI Picture: Dan Kitwood/PA Wire

Matthew Sankey The Alliance

I will always speak up for local business

ONE of the Borough Partnership’s new innovations has been to introduce ‘Champions’. These are sector-specific roles designed to help the Council better understand and connect with a specific issue or sector within our Borough.

I was delighted to accept Ben Chapelard’s invitation to become the Small Business Champion. As this is a brand-new role, I have been able to make it my own in a very short space of time.

Fundamentally, I am the conduit between small local businesses and the local authority and its members/councillors.

It’s a two-way role – I help both officers and members understand specific pressures that small businesses face, helping them to understand how any given policy may or may not affect them. I am also hands-on communicating with local businesses if they have any Council-related questions. My phone number is on the business page of the Council website, and I am always available to help out.

I have always thought there was a

disconnect between the Council and the businesses around it, and I have worked hard to try to bridge this.

During my first few weeks, it was very obvious that we have a very talented and dedicated Economic Development (ED) team at TWBC. These are unsung heroes, working hard in the background on projects and initiatives to support and grow the local economy in the Borough.

I’ll be honest, before I became a

councillor I had never even heard of this department, so my first task was to try to help this team elevate its profile within the town’s business sectors. It’s not a particularly hard task as the team produce some great results.

I was also concerned that TWBC’s website lacked much information for businesses. It was all in there, but it was difficult to find. We now have a dedicated Business portal at: tunbridgewells.gov.uk

In addition, I was concerned that new businesses, or businesses relocating to the area, found it hard to discover their obligations to the local authority, how to access help or who to turn to for guidance. The ED team have this week produced a Business Welcome Pack that will be sent directly to any newly-registered business in the Borough.

Connecting the town to the surrounding

village is also important, and very recently I met with the team who will be designing the cycle path I have been campaigning for from Langton Green, through Rusthall, to the Commons in Tunbridge Wells. This has been a huge task, ensuring that the various stakeholders, politicians and officers are all aligned, work is well underway and I look forward to the results.

What else do I want to work on? The Bus Gate or ‘PR2’, as we call it in the Town Hall, is clearly an issue. While the officers are confident of the legal side of it all, it is obvious that people are still very unhappy with it and we should be concentrating on improving the area for all users., making it clear to those who should be there and taking advantage of the reduced traffic. Politically, this will be a hot potato, but I shall be right on top of it at all times. At a recent committee meeting, I was able to confirm with the Finance Officer that the funds raised by the fines could legally be spent on improving that area. The ball is rolling.

FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk 14 NEWS Comment Wednesday September 20 | 2023 Visitus: RussellHouse,GroveHillRoad,TunbridgeWells,Kent,TN11RZ Website: www.brittensmusic.co.uk Phone: (01892)526659 Email: info@brittensmusic.co.uk Ourflexible,lowcostinstrumentrentalscheme BRITTENSMUSIC … Wheremusicmatters Whyourinstrumentrentalscheme issopopular: Nolargefinancialcommitment. ✔ ✔ ✔ ✔ Flexibilitytoexploredifferentinstrumentsand changesizewhenneeded. Highqualityinstrumentswithinhouseset-up, servicingandrepair. Discountequaltothefirst6monthsofrental paymentswhenyoupurchase. Getstartedonyourmusicaljourneytoday! Visitourwebsite,popintoourshowroomor callusformoreinformation. Followus:
Matthew Sankey was elected as a Borough councillor for the Tunbridge Wells Alliance, serving the Speldhurst and Bidborough Ward in November 2021. He has lived in Tunbridge Wells all his life, growing up in Speldhurst and now with his own young family

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 you can write to the Editor, Times of Tunbridge Wells, Salomons Estate, Tunbridge Wells TN3 0TG

Creative solutions to anti-social behaviour are needed

I THINK we could all concur with Greg Clark MP that something must be done about anti-social behaviour, instead of walking on by or simply turning the other cheek.

Restorative justice seems like a good idea and is regularly used in New Zealand. Getting prolific local graffiti artists, such as ‘Omen Nors’, to repaint the walls they have sprayed over or pick up litter sounds like an ideal solution.

I’ve regularly asked the Borough Council to repaint the Red Wall in Sandhurst Road, only to see it covered in graffiti just days later. So much so, the Council claims it’s not their responsibility anymore.

Recently it took over a month for Southeastern to mend a ticket machine at High Brooms Station after it had been vandalised beyond recognition. And during lockdown, I had to get several benches replaced by Sherwood

Permits should entitle us to a guaranteed parking space

I, like the other residents on my road, paid a hefty sum for the privilege of parking on the street each day. Our road is narrow, so myself and my neighbours line up our cars, nose to nose, each cognisant of the other’s need to find a space at the end of a long day at the office.

Lately, however, something has changed. By the time I get home, the entire permitted area is packed. Not a single space to be had. Parking anywhere else will incur a penalty. The situation has become stressful. Recently, after squeezing my car into the last remaining spot in the road, I encountered an official doing checks on all of the cars. I approached and asked him if all of the cars he had checked were permitted to be there. He confirmed that he had not issued any fines to any of the cars.

Men’s Shed on the Oak Road Doorstep Green which had been chopped up for firewood.

But the flip side is that we also need more sports and social facilities for youth of all ages to enjoy. Why not put the pump track rejected by Hawkenbury adults in Sherwood or High Brooms to replace to the worn-out BMX track on Clifton Road?

And inspired by the Mercury Prize

That meant that each of those cars had been issued a permit. By my calculations, the Council is selling more permits than there are spaces. Is this another moneymaking racket? Has anybody done the maths? What happens when all of the cars that are legally allowed to park in a permitted area attempt to do so? Who covers their PCNs when spaces run out and they have to park elsewhere?

Council, your money-making schemes are making our lives increasingly difficult.

Local government must perform Ben Chapelard, the leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, clearly did not look at his Council’s financial position before writing his article for the Times on September 6. If he had, he would have seen that, in the first quarter of this financial

PEPPY SAYS...

success of Ezra Collective, a prize-winning modern jazz band formed at a London youth club could provide more musicmaking opportunities locally?

And sadly, the Borough Council also seems to be neglecting sports funding as part of its cash-strapped poverty pleadings while fleecing hapless motorists, judging by complaints from local cricket, football, and rugby clubs.

I’m constantly amazed by the lack of positive thinking. That stash of motorists’ cash could be recycled and put to good use in the local community. Creative solutions are welcome!

Unfortunately, after writing this letter, the ticket machine serving Platform 2 at High Brooms Station has been vandalised yet again.

year, net expenditure was £1.1million less than budget, while net income was £1.25million higher. In short, the Council has some £2.35million more than it claimed it would need when the budget was agreed in March – more than enough to maintain Dunorlan Park without resorting to further parking charges; to ensure the Borough has a basic tourist information service and to make good its commitment to improve the facilities at The Nevill Ground to ensure county cricket returns to Tunbridge Wells – as well as to provide local residents with a pretty hefty reduction in Council Tax.

None of this surplus is due to sound financial management in the Town Hall. Instead, the Council is benefiting from windfalls from higher interest rates and from “Public Realm 2 enforcement” i.e. fining motorists for driving in the centre of Tunbridge Wells. This revenue should have

been foreseen in March, and taken account of in the budgeting process. Furthermore, the money is likely to keep on rolling in for the foreseeable future, which makes proposals in the current draft of the Council’s budget for 2024/25 to hit hardpressed Borough residents with further hikes in Council Tax, difficult to understand.

Ben Chapelard needs to learn that until local government, including the Council he purports to run, performs effectively and delivers the services residents want efficiently, it won’t be valued. Contrary to his claims, he has the resources to make Tunbridge Wells Borough Council a ‘force for good’. The issue is whether he has the competence to do so.

Thank you for your kindness

May I, through the letters page of your newspaper, send my heartfelt thanks to a couple from Tunbridge Wells who showed extreme kindness when I had an accident in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.

On the afternoon of Monday July 24 my husband and I were walking across a car park near the seafront when I tripped and fell heavily on my right side, hitting my head, chest and arm. I was initially shocked and in significant pain and would have been unable to walk back to our car which was a couple of miles away.

The wonderful couple, who were apparently on the way home from the Latitude Festival to Tunbridge Wells, came to our aid and drove us back to our vehicle. It was only later I remembered that we had probably interrupted their fish and chip supper, and we could have thanked them in a more practical way.

My fractured elbow is healing well and I hope that they might see this letter and know how grateful my husband and I were.

Letters NEWS 15 Wednesday September 20 | 2023 FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk
Dear Editor... Live in Care Help 10 yrs live-in-carer Care Certificate Update Training 2023 DBS/CRB checked Clean Driving Licence Excellent References MOBILE Adrian Mendez 07532 167273 adrian---43@outlook.com
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The Monday volunteers for Friends of Dunorlan Park busy at work clearing the area around the water feature. Picture: @friendsofdunorlanpark
Helping to shape a better world For 100 years Full | Weekly | Day www.benenden.school/opendays Open Mornings Saturday 14 October Saturday 11 November

Skinners’ students have set their designs on an architectural future

Kent-based homebuilder Millwood Designer Homes has rewarded the exceptional academic achievements of two Tunbridge Wells secondary school students. The Times finds out more…

Earlier this month, Aniyanth Kannan and Samuel Schipper from The Skinners’ School were presented with two prestigious prizes by Millwood Designer Homes at The Assembly Hall Theatre. Millwood’s annual student design competition, now in its fourteenth year, was originally created to celebrate the achievements of budding young designers in Kent and East Sussex.

This year Aniyanth and Samuel were chosen by the company, which is in the process of creating a number of luxury homes in Crowborough, for their outstanding contribution to art and design.

Aniyanth received the prestigious Millwood Prize for Middle School Excellence in Product Design, while Samuel was awarded the sought-after Millwood Cup for Senior Design.

Edward Wesson, Headmaster at The Skinners’ School, commented: “Many thanks to Millwood Homes for their generous sponsorship of these awards. They are a real stimulus to the development

of independent investigation, to problemsolving, to collaborative hard work, all qualities that will be invaluable in a range of careers for our students.

“Aniyanth and Samuel are shining examples of young people with that curiosity, and are worthy winners of this

year’s awards.”

Millwood Construction Director Jon Kent presented the talented students with a trophy, a £50 book token and a £50 cheque each, to celebrate their impressive achievements.

Jon said: “I am always proud to present

local students with an accolade for their school achievements. Both students from The Skinners’ School have demonstrated exceptional ambition and skill within the field of product design. On behalf of all at

‘Both students from The Skinners’ School have demonstrated exceptional ambition and skill within the field of product design’

Millwood Designer Homes, I would like to congratulate Aniyanth and Sam on their achievements, and wish them all the success for their future careers.”

Since 1992, Millwood Designer Homes has specialised in creating luxurious properties that demonstrate exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail. The award-winning housebuilder currently has a wide range of stunning properties available across Surrey, Sussex and Kent.

EDUCATION 17 Wednesday September 20 | 2023 FOR EVEN MORE NEWS VISIT: timeslocalnews.co.uk
DESIGN FOR LIFE: Jon Kent of Millwood Designer Homes presents the trophies to Samuel Schipper (left) and Aniyanth Kannan
The value of investments can fall and you may get back less than you invested. RBC Brewin Dolphin is a trading name of Brewin Dolphin Limited. Brewin Dolphin Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Financial Services Register reference number 124444) and regulated in Jersey by the Financial Services Commission. Registered Office; 12 Smithfield Street, London, EC1A 9BD. Registered in England and Wales company number: 2135876. VAT number: GB 690 8994 69 The long term . ” “ The best thing to focus on in the short term? Call our Royal Tunbridge Wells office to arrange a free introductory meeting with Graeme Hayden. Call 01892 739580 or email graeme.hayden@brewin.co.uk brewin.co.uk/royal-tunbridge-wells Smart advice to help you make the right decisions for your financial future.

The sky’s the limit with property

Picture:

Your dedicated guide

19 Wednesday September 20 | 2023 Property Feature Sponsored by Handelsbanken Tunbridge
Wells
All you need to know about the current housing and commercial market in Tunbridge Wells and the wider area Shutterstock

Oakhill: a charming new parkland estate in the heart of rural Kent

SEPTEMBER 23 will see the launch of one of the county’s most beautiful new developments – a modern, gated country estate in the sought-after, picturesque village of Hildenborough.

Amidst 30 acres of charming parkland, the Berkeley Group’s Oakhill offers a rare blend of countryside living with a cosmopolitan twist, encompassing 166 thoughtfully designed apartments and houses alongside an extensive suite of residents’ amenities, all within a commutable distance to London, with Hildenborough railway station just over a mile away.

At the heart of the estate is Oakhill House, an impressive and sensitively restored Grade II listed building, which has been transformed into just six exclusive apartments with heritage features such as delicate cornicing and restored fireplaces. Surrounding this converted historic house is a selection of exquisitely designed new

Landlords need support

homes, refurbished and renovated buildings and modern facilities, all sensitively designed to complement and enhance the historic architecture of Oakhill House, and home to a range of one-, twoand three-bedroom apartments. Twentyseven three-, four- and five-bedroom family houses are scattered throughout the wider development, all with private gardens and allocated parking spaces.

Oakhill boasts a picturesque landscape, complete with serene ponds abundant with fish, woodlands and an expansive country park. In addition, and setting a new standard for countryside living, an exceptional Residents’ Club offers a wideranging suite of facilities, from a cinema, state-of-the-art gym and dedicated residents’ lounge and co-working space, to an outdoor BBQ area and a Padel court.

Prices start at £408,600.

Details at: oakhill-hildenborough.co.uk

THE tax rules on rental income continue to have an impact on the rental market. Before 2017, mortgage interest was a tax-deductible claim for all landlords, as well as many other fees and outgoings, then they only pay tax on any remaining profit. The Government deemed this unfair, particularly as all landlords, whatever their income tax bracket, got the same relief. Now, tax is payable on all rental income held by individuals. Companies however are allowed to claim the interest costs. This may sound fair but what is the impact on the market? With the current spiky mortgage rates, we have seen landlords putting rents up to try and cover their vastly higher mortgage payments, often pricing tenants out. But this isn’t enough as even if the rent covers the mortgage, the landlord

still must pay the tax on it, leaving them considerably out of pocket. Many are selling up, reducing the supply of properties on the rental market which leads to rents increasing. This all impacts homeowners with more supply on the market and therefore prices falling.

So why hasn’t anything been done to try and halt this? Well, a petition was started by a Midlands landlord. It reached more than 40,000 signatures. But the Government closed it in May on the grounds that the new system was fairer for all landlords and “reduces the disparity in income tax treatment between homeowners and landlords.” No thought of tenants!

What’s the solution? Well, rents will keep increasing as supply slows and this doesn’t look like changing unless the Government acts on the tax disparity between individuals and companies or interest rates start falling.

20 Property Feature Wednesday September 20 | 2023 Sponsored by Handelsbanken Tunbridge Wells Our lending facilities are only available to persons aged 18 or over and are subject to status. Written quotations and Terms and Conditions are available on request. Handelsbanken is the trading name of Handelsbanken plc, which is incorporated in England and Wales with company number 11305395. Registered office: 3 Thomas More Square, London, E1W 1WY, UK. Handelsbanken plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Financial Services Register number 806852. Handelsbanken plc is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Svenska Handelsbanken AB (publ). handelsbanken.co.uk/tunbridgewells HB 22 - 0717 - 0264 10.240 04.2022 Mortgages that work
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After more than 160 years working in property, we have the heritage, experience and support of our leading market knowledge to help our clients navigate the current landscape, no matter how uncertain it may feel.

The combination of our global network of buyers and our in-depth local knowledge of Tunbridge Wells means that we’re well placed to find the perfect match for your property.

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UK property sales continue to decline

WITH the Bank of England continuing current trends by recently increasing interest rates for the 14th time in a row, the impact is being felt right across the UK housing market.

It is understandable that numbers are down. The combination of the cost-of-living crisis and higher interest rates for borrowers is partly responsible. Meanwhile, many who might have otherwise planned to move are waiting to see what will happen to prices.

All of this was reflected in Zoopla’s monthly house price index, which is down a fifth compared to 2022. By the end of the year, sales numbers are forecast to be the lowest we’ve seen since 2012.

But the news is not all doom and gloom. The report also indicates sales will recover over the following two to three years as interest rates stabilise, and the

Governor of the Bank of England has stated we are close to the top of the interest rate cycle. So what does this mean for mortgages? Markets have seen the numbers of fixed-rate mortgages being offered reduce slightly over the summer – as the longer-term interest rate market starts to look more optimistic. However, while it is likely that rates will reduce over the medium to longer term, it is probable we will see further increases first. As a result, many buyers are looking to lock-in rates now in order to secure properties.

All of this means it is more important than ever to seek personalised advice to ensure the mortgage offer you secure is the most appropriate for your circumstances. None of us has a crystal ball – more’s the pity – but the next best thing is mortgage advice that is tailored to your specific needs. handelsbanken.co.uk

A guide to finding the perfect plot of land

FIRST TIME BUYERS TURN TO FAMILY MEMBERS TO EXIT THE PRIVATE RENTAL MARKET

WHETHER you are planning on building your dream home, embarking on a development project or want to make an investment, finding the perfect plot of land can be an exciting yet daunting experience. It requires careful consideration and research. The professional team at Sited have extensive knowledge and experience in sourcing the perfect plot of land and are here to help every step of the way. Here are some factors to consider when searching for that ideal piece of land.

Define your vision and purpose

The very first step is to be clear on your vision and purpose. What are your plans for the land? Is it for building our dream home, starting a business or investing for future development? Knowing your goal is essential and it will help to guide your search.

Set a realistic budget

Establish a realistic budget and don’t forget about contemplating extra costs. Your budget should encompass not only the cost of the land, but also various expenses such as permits, utilities and potential development costs. Setting your financial boundaries is crucial to avoid overspending.

Location matters most

In the property world, location is king. When choosing your piece of land consider the proximity to schools, healthcare facilities, public transport and shopping centres. Evaluate the neighbourhood and overall suitability of the location for your intended use.

Be sure of regulations

Investigate regulations thoroughly to ensure that they fully align with your plans. Any restrictions or requirements should be clearly understood to prevent complications.

Environmental factors

Check for potential flood zones, assess the soil quality, and check if there are any endangered species or protected areas on or near the land. Environmental factors can have a substantial impact on your land and your plans. Conducting an environmental assessment is a crucial step when searching for land.

Infrastructure and utilities

Make sure the land has access to essential utilities such as water, electricity, sewage systems and internet connectivity. If these services are not readily available, find out the cost of installing them.

Transportation and accessibility

Take into account public transportation availability, potential road developments in the area and traffic patterns. Easy accessibility is essential for daily life, so access and transportation options are critical factors when choosing the ideal piece of land. Conduct a thorough survey and inspection

Make sure you hire a professional land surveyor to inspect the property boundaries. A comprehensive soil test can also provide valuable insights into the land’s suitability for your intended use.

Consider future growth potential

The land’s value can increase significantly if there are plans for infrastructure improvements, commercial expansion, so anticipate future developments in the area.

Seek legal assistance

Ensure that you hire legal professionals to review contracts, deeds and any implications associated with the land purchase. It’s absolutely vital to have a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities to protect your investment.

Get expert guidance

Don’t hesitate to seek expert advice. The professional and friendly team at Sited can provide invaluable insights and assistance and help to ensure you make an informed decision.

By clearly defining your vision, setting a realistic budget and thoroughly researching factors such as infrastructure, environmental conditions and location, you can move forward with your new venture with confidence.

The team at Sited provides expert guidance and are your allies in securing the ideal piece of land for your future endeavours. Happy hunting!

Contact us for further information or an informal discussion on 01892 579937 or steve@sited.land

First time buyers are often finding that they are caught in the private rental market with little opportunity of getting out without the help of The Bank of Family. James Richards, Partner of awardwinning Sales and Lettings Agent, Maddisons Residential, looks at the reasons why this group of the UK population is struggling to get their foot on the ladder compared to 30 years ago.

The government’s English Housing Survey for 2021-22 reported that just 41% of today’s young adults own their own home, compared to 66% three decades ago – leading to a sharp increase in the private rented sector.

More recently, rising mortgages mean that renting privately is now often cheaper than monthly mortgage payments, even though the housing affordability ratio – average house prices compared with average full-time salaries – fell from a peak of 9.06% in 2021 to 8.28% last year.

The additional removal of the Right to Buy and Help to Buy schemes has led to a sorry reality; the younger generation is increasingly trapped in the private rental sector for longer, unable to afford to step on the first rung of the property ladder.

So, enter The Bank of Family, formerly known as The Bank of Mum and Dad, but widening to encompass other relatives who might be able to help by releasing equity or funds. 380,000 property purchases have been helped via this route this year, with 11% supported by siblings.

But what if you don’t have this as an option? On the surface, the outlook may appear disheartening, but it’s important to sift through the headlines to get the complete picture. While most experts believe the unprecedented low interest rates that prevailed following the bank crisis of 2008 are gone forever, wage growth has caught up with inflation for the first time in two years. If you’re a would-be first-time buyer, it’s worth keeping across the ongoing adjustments within the economy as we move towards the predicted new normal.

Meet the expert:

James Richards is a Partner at Maddisons Residential, leading independent Sales and Lettings Agent in Tunbridge Wells, offering expert sales and lettings advice with excellent customer service.

22 Property Feature Wednesday September 20 | 2023 Sponsored by Handelsbanken Tunbridge Wells www.maddisonsresidential.co.uk 18 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN2 5TN Telephone: 01892 514100 Email: info@maddisonsresidential.co.uk
01892 249070 info@tnlettings.co.uk Why use TN Lettings? We pride ourselves on high levels of service, and won’t be beaten on price. Guaranteed! Bespoke pricing available for Landlords. Just ask. Family run, independent, local company. Services include Tenant finding Fully managed Rent collection Your Trusted, Local, Independent Letting Agents
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Are landlords selling up?

SHAUN KIDD, co-founder of Jack Charles Estate Agents, gives us his view on the perceived ‘buy to let’ property sell-off. He explains that local market sentiment still feels broadly positive, despite interest rate uncertainty…

Landlords naturally feel a level of concern regarding their ongoing financing, and frustration around legislative soundbites, such as ending no-fault evictions, adding rent caps, and changing EPC requirements, etc. However, this isn’t translating into distressed sales, only a healthy level of due diligence to ensure rental levels support their longer-term investment and cover anticipated maintenance and compliance costs. We are also preparing our clients to deal with key challenges, such as EPC grading. The government has outlined a threshold

Now could be the time to improve rather than move

for residential properties to meet a minimum Grade C rating by December 2025 for new tenancies, and December 2028 for existing ones. What is concerning is the level of uncertainty still regarding the assessment criteria, exemptions and consensus on what ‘good’ looks like. The key for landlords is to work closely with their agent around grading improvements, ensuring they remain well informed and commit to the right type of work to both spread the cost and beat the inevitable trade shortages as the deadline approaches.

If you are looking for a team that are easy to work with and will provide a personalised service, for a fee with which you will be comfortable, email Shaun directly at shaun@jackcharles. co.uk or call the team on 01892 320 330

WITH interest rates at a 15-year high, the cost to move house has become a huge barrier to upgrading your home.

The more cost-effective alternative is to transform your current property into the home you’ve always dreamed about. You will be saving the costs of mortgage rate hikes, stamp duty, estate agency fees and removals to name a few. The social benefits of remaining in your community shouldn’t be underestimated: schools, clubs, friends, and neighbours, all contribute to your current lifestyle and wellbeing.

Using householder planning policies there are many options to transform your home, whether that be simple changes internally, small extensions or complete makeovers –all are possible with the help of the right professionals.

Country House Homes understand that the prospect of making an application or

embarking on building work can be daunting. Our role is to work alongside you, listening to your needs and aspirations, providing you with achievable designs ideas tailored to your budget. We will make the process of planning easy for you, taking on the tasks of dealing with the council, all the required consultants and even providing reassurance to concerned neighbours.

Once you have your approval, Country House Homes can handle all the precommencement tasks such as planning conditions, building regulation drawings, tender packs and appointing a builder. Whichever services are agreed on, they will accord with your needs and budget to achieve your vision.

Let us help you make your dream home a reality. Call 01622 739006 or email sales@countryhousehomes.co.uk

Beautifully renovated mews houses in soughtafter Hungershall Park in Tunbridge Wells

SURROUNDED by countryside yet within walking distance of all that Tunbridge Wells has to offer, the three beautifully renovated mews houses in Hungershall Park are a hidden gem.

Originally built in the 1830s, Hungershall Mews was one of several former coach and stable blocks to be found on Cabbage Stalk Lane, which served the iconic Italianate villas of Hungershall Park.

Award-winning local property development company Beau Property is sympathetically updating and restoring the properties while retaining their original charm.

Layouts

The mews houses are arranged around a private shared courtyard and all have slightly different layouts. There are two, two-bedroom houses and one threebedroom design, each with handsome Crittall-style doors, underfloor heating throughout, beautifully appointed kitchen/ dining rooms with shaker-style units, quartz worktops, integrated Bosch appliances, and impressive principal bedroom suites. All of the properties benefit from an area of outdoor space and the semi-rural location affords views from some of the bedrooms over the neighbouring Wyevale plant nursery and countryside beyond.

The location of these properties is most impressive, conveniently located in this sought-after private park, with scenic footpaths via Cabbage Stalk Lane and the Common into central Tunbridge Wells. The High Street is just over one mile from Hungershall Mews, with shops, independent boutiques, the historic Pantiles and a superstore. There are numerous restaurants including The Ivy and The Warren, as well as so many choices for delicious cakes, fresh bread and coffee, including Juliet’s, Fine

Grind, Gail’s, Italian delicatessen Arte Bianca, and Sankey’s fishmongers providing fresh fish and seafood.

Designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the surrounding countryside boasts several places of historic interest and attractive walks, including the famous Ashdown Forest, with sailing and fishing at Bewl Water near Lamberhurst. The award-winning Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest is also nearby, offering woodland walks,

cycling, riding and outdoor music concerts.

Chris Hammond of Beau Properties says: “Hungershall Mews is a hidden gem everyone will wish they found first. We specialise in creating, restoring and refurbishing original and heritage properties across the South East. We are committed to impeccable quality and design across every development and we have a trusted track record, with our most recent project awarded an accolade by the town’s Civic Society and highly commended by a national award panel as well as featuring in the Sunday Times’ most ‘lustworthy homes’. Quite simply, we love to reimagine, build and style beautiful, lasting homes just for you and Hungershall Mews is one of those special projects we have loved to see come to life.”

Natasha Selbie, Director at Savills Tunbridge Wells says: “Hungershall Park is a very special location – you feel as though you are in the middle of the countryside while being just on the edge of this thriving town. These stylish and unique properties all offer something slightly different and provide much flexibility as a luxurious fulltime home or the perfect Tunbridge Wells pied-a-terre.”

Prices range from £675,000 to £825,000.

For more information, contact Savills Tunbridge Wells on 01892 507000

26 Property Feature Wednesday September 20 | 2023 Sponsored by Handelsbanken Tunbridge Wells
SHAUN KIDD
Picture: Shutterstock

LIVE THE DREAM

At Sited we are specialists in sourcing desirable plots so you can realise your dream home.

The Sited bespoke journey – source the plot/secure planning/project manage the build

At Sited we source exceptional sites for clients requiring a bespoke service – facilitating the dream of developing their own home.

We make dreams a reality – contact Sited to provide the optimum site finding service for your dream home.

See

Sited Limited 78 St Johns Road Tunbridge Wells Kent TN4 9PH 07739 514350 01892 579937
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VISIT US IN ROBERTSBRIDGE!

WE HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO HELP WITH MAINTAINING YOUR LAWN AND GARDEN.

Jack Charles Estate Agents Is your rental property really being managed? Find out how an independent agent can offer more for less 01892 320 330 lettings@jackcharles.co.uk Making our business all about you! 6 London Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1DQ

What is a quantity surveyor and their role in supporting construction projects?

Make yourself at home in Crowborough

THIS delightful semi-detached home in Fermor Road, Crowborough, has been completely refurbished to a high standard and offers ample off-road parking. Plus there’s great potential to further extend the property (as some neighbouring properties have) – subject to the usual planning consents.

As you approach the property you have space for off-road parking to the front, plus a small lawn and flower borders. Two steps up take you through the front door and into the entrance hall, to the left you have a door to a modern downstairs cloakroom with a concealed cistern. The stairs lead to the first-floor landing and ahead of you is the opening to the open plan, modern kitchen/dining room/living room.

The kitchen area is fitted with white wall and base units incorporating integrated appliances. There is also additional under-stairs storage and a breakfast bar. The double-aspect lounge/dining room has windows to the front and double doors to the rear which open out onto the rear garden. The whole of the ground floor

benefits from easy-to-clean wood-style flooring.

The first floor offers a double aspect main bedroom, a second bedroom and the family bathroom which boasts a walk-in shower, separate side-fill bath, wash basin, W.C. and heated towel rail.

Outside, to the side of the property, is a shared driveway which leads to the back garden, part of which is paved giving access to the garage/workshop, the rest of the garden is laid to lawn.

The property is situated approximately two miles from the mainline station, approximately a 10-minute walk to Walshes Park, a 15-minute walk to Wolfe Recreation Park and just a five-minute walk to Ashdown Primary School (junior site). Crowborough offers a vast array of shops, bars, eateries and amenities. As well being close to the Ashdown Forest for country walks, Crowborough offers pretty much everything a family could need.

Guide price £380,000 to £400,000.

Contact KMJ Property on 01892 515188 or 01342 824 824

Gillian Palmer's The Property Hub is working in collaboration with Laura Hannan MRICS, Quantity Surveyor at Spider Projects – an RICS-regulated practice serving Tunbridge Wells, the South East and London to bring clarity and confidence to construction projects.

A quantity surveyor, also known as a QS or a cost consultant, can play a crucial role in adding value to a construction project. Their primary focus is on managing costs associated with the project.

Quantity surveying consists of working with scope, drawings and other design information to prepare a budget. The level of detail in the cost information will be affected by the level of design information and decisions having been made on scope and specification. During the preparation of the budget or cost estimate, a QS will raise queries and discuss with their client their aspirations to better understand their client’s requirements.

Gillian Palmer says: “Spider Projects has been working with The Property Hub since its launch in February. Their principal role is to bring together all elements of the project in a holistic way to ensure clear deliverables constrained to a finite timescale and budget. This mirrors the ethos of The Property Hub and its members, which has brought together a team of experts under one roof including contractors, architects and surveyors,

through to the finish line services, including interior designers, smart home technology and many more.”

Where quantity surveyors can really add value

Spider Projects acknowledges building work can be expensive. “If the costs exceed the budget, we or another QS can work with the client and the design team to discuss alternative options, changing materials or perhaps reducing the size of an extension if needed,” says Spider Projects’ Laura Hannan.

When you are ready to obtain prices from a contractor, a QS can advise on procurement methods, prepare a tender pack and then review the prices and returned documents from contractors. Often items that are listed as ‘provisional sums’ are areas of cost that can increase during the construction phase. These are also areas that a QS could further discuss with the project team and client to define in more detail so that a contractor is able to be confident in fixing a price.

Are you a property developer, portfolio landlord or aspiring property individual looking to hear more from a quantity surveyor expert or discuss a project?

The Property Hub experts and Spider Projects invite you to book your place on our upcoming Property Hub event, on October 5 at: thefinancehub.money/events or call 01892 280000

30 Property Feature Wednesday September 20 | 2023 Sponsored by Handelsbanken Tunbridge Wells

Looking to Sell this Autumn?

RUSTHALL OIRO £490,000£510,000

Delightful 4 bedroom semidetached family home. The accommodation, over 3 floors, includes a bay fronted lounge, dining room, kitchen and utility room/downstairs cloakroom. On the first floor there is the master bedroom, the family bathroom and bedroom 4. On the second floor are bedrooms 2 and 3. EPC D, Council Tax C.

RUSTHALL OIRO £400,000

Located in the heart of Rusthall village is this lovely, 3 bedroom, family home, the accommodation comprises; bay fronted living room, dining room, kitchen and downstairs bathroom, and the 3 bedrooms are on the first floor. The property overlooks the common. EPC D, Council Tax C.

RUSTHALL GUIDE £750,0000 TO £800,000

A gorgeous bay fronted, Period, semi-detached family home (with halls adjoining), situated in the heart of Rusthall. The property offers approximately 1643 sq ft/152.6 sq m of accommodation, which spans 3 floors, including a 24’ reception room, kitchen, conservatory, downstairs cloakroom, 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

EPC D, Council Tax D.

Then Call Offices in Tunbridge Wells, Crowborough & Forest Row 01892 515188 / 01342 824824
Proud to be a member of the Berkeley Group of companies HILL-00136_OH - Times of Tunbridge Wells Ad 340mm (H) x 264mm (W) AW.indd 1 08/09/2023 16:02
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Six beers to celebrate Oktoberfest – próst!

In his monthly column, Alex Greig of Fuggles bars and bottle shop previews the upcoming annual celebration of Bavarian beer – Oktoberfest…

It’s time for one of my favourite beer festivals of the year – Oktoberfest. The first one was held in 1810 to celebrate the wedding of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese in mid-October. After the success of the festival they decided to repeat it and over subsequent years the festival grew and was extended. The start date was also brought forward to September – probably to take advantage of the better weather in Munich at that time of year.

The festival itself is a real experience –packed tents with a real party atmosphere, Drindls, Leiderhosen, Maß glasses (1-litre glasses synonymous with the festival) and the waiting staff who have a true skill in handling multiples of these at once, while gliding through the crowds!

Then of course there’s the traditional German foodie fare which is served alongside the official Oktoberfest beers.

There are six breweries with a tent at the festival (alongside lots of other tents with varying themes) and these are the six that are authorised to make the official Oktoberfest beers.

While lots of other breweries also choose to brew their own ‘Fest Bier’ at this time of year, only six have the official status attached to them. It’s always hard to pick a favourite, so I’ve largely stopped trying and instead I enjoy them all for the subtle

differences and nuances.

The style of beer brewed – a ‘Marzen’ lager was originally not allowed to be brewed during the summer months in Germany. The reason? Well, the authorities were worried that the boiling process during brewing may be a fire risk and they were also worried that the high temperatures might cause off flavours in the beer too.

So it tended to be brewed as a stronger beer at the end of spring and lagered over the summer months and then first served at Oktoberfest. In comparison to the Munich

Helles style lager, Marzen tends to be stronger, more full-bodied and with a slightly sweeter finish.

Today’s Oktoberfest beers tend to be a bit lighter than the original Marzens, but you can still pick up lots of traditional-style brews at this time of the year.

And so, the beers…

Augustiner – From the brewer of one of our favourite Helles lagers going. This is also the first time we’ve been able to get this beer in the UK, too. It’s light, biscuity and slightly deceptive in its strength. Caramel and a

touch of honey combine wonderfully with a dry, citrussy bitterness at the end.

Paulaner – This is one of my favourites. It has some honey and toffee notes that are really well complemented by lemony citrus and just enough bitterness at the end to send you back for another sip.

Depth

Hacker-Pschorr – This boasts a long finish, with a sweetness to it balancing out some subtle spicy notes, which I always find in Hacker-Pschorr beers. It’s really smooth but with a delicious depth to it.

Löwenbräu– Lighter in colour than some of the others, with lots of caramel and biscuit coming through on the aroma, this is an easy-drinking beer thanks to the lighter body and the great balance between the malt and hops.

Spaten – This one’s really well-balanced but with a rich, underlying caramel sweetness to it, true to the style. It also finishes with some wonderful grassy notes and a crisp bitterness.

Hofbräu – One of the most full-bodied of the Fest Beers, with plenty delivered from the hops in terms of floral and citrus notes too.

So even if you can’t make it to Munich this year, you can still get to try the official beers right here at Fuggles!

35 Wednesday September 20 | 2023 Food & Drink

Celebrate at Salomons Estate this Christmas!

Christmas Wreath Workshops

Thursday 30th November from 6.30pm – 8:30pm £68 per person

Tickets include a mince pie and mulled wine

Christmas Day Lunch

Monday 25th December

Indulge in the ultimate Christmas Day feast in the stunning surroundings of our picturesque estate.

£97.50 per adult

£45.00 per child (12 and under)

Breakfast with Santa

Sunday 24th December

Enjoy a delicious full English breakfast on Christmas Eve! Experience a magical morning as he makes his way around to each table.

£20.00 per person (adult or child)

Christmas Parties

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and what could be merrier than a tailor-made Christmas party for the ultimate festive do? Whether you’re in charge of making sure the office party is the best one yet or rounding up your nearest and dearest, our beautiful event spaces, delicious feasts and dedicated team promise an unforgettable Christmas celebration!

Friday 1st and Sunday 3rd December

Morning session 10:00am– 12:00pm £90 per person

Tickets include a glass of Buck’s fizz followed by Festive Afternoon Tea

Join the fabulous Rare Nature Design at their festive workshops at Salomons Estate. Design your very own wreath and tablescapes using provided equipment, foliage, and beautiful decorations.

Dine with Santa

Sunday 10th December

Join us for a delicious 3-course Sunday roast. Enjoy tales from Santa and his elves and a special surprise…

£35.00 per adult

£17.50 per child

Tables available from 12.00pm – 3.00pm (includes an early Christmas gift)

Festive Afternoon Teas

27th November – 16th December

Indulge in the spirit of Christmas with a delicious afternoon tea and savour a selection of seasonal delights.

£25.00 Traditional Tea

£30.00 Prosecco Tea £17.50 per child

Experience

Thursday 14th December

7.00pm – midnight

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…!

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas and join us for an evening of festive hits made famous by the one and only Michael Bublé! Enjoy an indulgent two course spread and live performance from our tribute singer!

£48 per person, includes drink on arrival and a 2-course menu

Salomons’ Jingle Ball

1st, 15th and 16th December

7.00pm – 1.00am

Our spectacular shared party nights will return this Christmas and we invite you to join us! Dress to impress and get ready to celebrate in style. For £56 per person, Salomons’ Jingle Ball includes:

A welcome drink

3-course festive menu

DJ and dancing

Photobooth and casino table

Merry Christmas!

Salomons’

Wednesday 25th October

Thursday 26th October 11.00am

Children: £21.50

Adults: £27.50 – includes complimentary tea and coffee during the activities For more information, please visit our website salomons-estate.com

BOOK ONLINE salomons-estate.com 01892 51 51 52 reception@salomons-estate.com @salomons_estate
Spooktacular
&
Afternoon Tea
Party!

Wines to savour for Organic September

Times Wine Editor James Viner discovers five additive-free bottles bursting with flavour

This week I recommend five top-notch bottles for Organic September – an annual campaign by the Soil Association that raises awareness about organic products. All of these wine producers farm organically, i.e. without man-made agrochemicals. Try these fantastic options for a taste of organic living…

1. 2022 Purato Nero d’Avola, Sicily, Italy (£8 offer, was £10, until October 1, Ocado, ocado.com; 13.5%)

Jolly, dusky, sweetly black plum-fruited, sloe berry-stashed, baked spice plum of a vegan-approved, organically certified nero d’avola from a brilliant ‘green to the extreme’ (the glass bottles are made from at least 80 per cent recycled glass and the cases made from 100 per cent recycled cardboard) carbon-neutral Italian winery. Medium-bodied, silky, juicy, beautifully balanced and so fresh on the finish. Smart and very delicious. One for tomato-based pasta dishes and pizza. All up purity.

2. 2022 Ernesto Catena Vineyards

‘Ánimal’ Organic Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (£10.99, Majestic, majestic. co.uk; 13.5%)

This is an attractive part oak barrel-aged malbec made from vineyards with organic certification, well flavoured without being excessively so, and easily accessible without being overly simple. One glass

very speedily becomes two. It’s a wellcomposed, versatile wine, that’s ideal with steak, chilli con carne, BBQ/Asado and most red meat dishes.

3. 2022 ‘G’ de Guiraud Semillon Sauvignon, Château Guiraud, Bordeaux, France (£15.50, Co-op, coop.co.uk; 13%)

Superb full-bodied dry white wines are produced in Bordeaux’s sweet-wine appellations, Sauternes and Barsac. This organic one is a rich, tangy, deftly-oaked,

white stone-fruit, gooseberry and pink grapefruit-stashed blend of 53% sauvignon blanc and 47% sémillon.

Made with organically certified grapes, it’s also a great way to toast ‘Bordeaux Wine Month’ this ‘Organic’ September. Delightful with white meats.

4. 2019 Gewurztraminer ‘Roche Roulée,’ Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Alsace, France (£21, The Wine Society, thewinesociety.com; 13.5%)

Alsace’s sunny and dry conditions make it perfect for organic and biodynamic viticulture. On song Domaine ZindHumbrecht produces terroir-driven wines that never disappoint. Their off-dry, full-bodied ‘Roche Roulée’ 2019 gewurz offers dramatic flavours of lychee, marmalade, spice, ginger and roses. The domain is Demeter certified (dual organic and biodynamic certification). A perfect pairing for onion tart, Thai dishes, trout, or salmon. Memorable drinking. Santé winemaker Olivier Humbrecht, M.W.! 5. 2018 Davenport Vineyards, Limney Estate, Kent & E. Sussex, England (£29, Davenport Vineyards, davenportvineyards.co.uk; 12%)

Davenport is one of a handful of growers in England to farm organically (the winery was one of the first in the country to be certified fully organic in 2000). Fizzing with flavour, this newly-released traditional method sparkler from Will Davenport’s vineyards marries appetising notes of red apple, pear and citrus with yeasty, nutty savouriness and a lively texture. With four years on lees and a 4.5 g/L dosage, it tapers into a long, satisfying finish, leaving the mouth thirsting for more. It’s easy to imagine that the best years of this wine are numerous years hence. Extremely classy domestic organic bubbly. Qui audet, vincit.

37 Wednesday September 20 | 2023 Food & Drink 1 2 3 4 5

guidegig

September 20 to October 3

THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS FORUM

Event information and tickets at www.twforum.co.uk

21/09 Angel Du$t + Powerplant

22/09 Back To The Disco

23/09 Transmission: The Sound of Joy Division

24/09 A Flock of Seagulls

25/09 The Howlers + The Worry People

29/09 Faux Fighters: A celebration of Foo Fighters

30/09 Congo Natty

THE GREY LADY MUSIC LOUNGE, PANTILES

All event information and tickets available at www.thegreylady.co.uk

22/09 The Grey Lady Sessions: Izzie Yardley + Laura Reznek

TN1 BAR & KITCHEN, MONSON ROAD

Open all day live music usually from 8pm booking advised via 01892 513900 or visit www. tn1barkitchen.co.uk

21/09 Mike Wilton

22/09 The New Imitation

23/09 Owen Donovan

28/09 Steffan James

29/09 David Mumford

30/09 Paul Turvey Duo

SQUERRYES WINERY RESTAURANT, WESTERHAM

Dining and live jazz music experience booking advised via 01959 562345 or www.squerryes.

co.uk Live music from 7.30pm

22/09 Jennifer Maslin & Alex Ho

29/09 Charlotte Lubbock & Paul Malsom Duo

Local music guru Paul Dunton shares his top gig picks for the next fortnight. Here’s your chance to see legendary 80s new wave band A Flock of Seagulls at The Forum, talented classical duo Jennifer Maslin & Alex Ho perform in a winery, or dance to the sound of DJ Ska n Mash at Tyber’s Reggae Bar

Godaughter

25/09 Snow Coats + Big Reference

26/09 Open Mic Night

30/09 Naked Lungs

THE BLACK HORSE PUB, CAMDEN ROAD

Open all day, music events  – free entry (unless stated) music from 8pm. Live music on Friday nights

ST EDITH FOLK SESSIONS, THE QUEEN’S HALL THEATRE, CRANBROOK

All event information and tickets available at www.stedithfolk. co.uk/what-s-on

22/09 Brooks Williams & Aaron Catlow

THE FORUM BASEMENT, THE SUSSEX ARMS

All event information and tickets available at www.twforum.co.uk

22/09 Pen Name + Coder +

TYBER’S REGGAE BAR, 9 NEVILL STREET

All event information and tickets available at www.tybersreggaebar. com/events

22/09 Jack Curtis

23/09 Skabratts

24/09 DJ Ska n Mash

27/09 Tyber & Pete

29/09 Richie Campbell

30/09 Toot n Skamen

THE GREEN DUCK EMPORIUM, 53 GROSVENOR ROAD

All event information and tickets available at www. thegreenduckemporium.com/ events

29/09 Carradine’s Cockney Sing-a-long!

JAZZ ON THE PANTILES, THE PANTILES BANDSTAND

A reservation is required (entrance £5pp). Participating restaurants :

The Tunbridge Wells Hotel: 01892 530501

The Kirthon: 07592 271151, La Casa Vecchia: 01892 544700

38 Gig Guide Wednesday September 20 | 2023
PAUL MALSOM
Featuring LIVE SURGERY including the NEW DSLT treatment for Glaucoma! Wednesday 4th October 2023, 8.30am - 5.00pm FREE Optometrist Education Day 8 CPD points Limited availability reserve your place today! Call 01342 306020 or email enquiries@centreforsight.com Centre for Sight | East Grinstead | RH19 4RH
CHARLOTTE LUBBOCK

21/09 The Violet Jive

28/09 Blues Brothers Little Brother

THE ASSEMBLY HALL THEATRE, CRESCENT ROAD

All event information and tickets available at www. assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk

28/09 The History of Soul

30/09 Think Floyd

01/10 RTWSO Concert (3pm)

MUSSORGSKY arr. RIMSKY-

KORSAKOV A Night on the Bare Mountain

TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35

RACHMANINOFF Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27

Roderick Dunk – Conductor

Soloist: Joo Yeon Sir – Violin

THE BEDFORD PUB, HIGH STREET Open all day, free entry. Music from 8.30pm

THE BOTTLE HOUSE INN, PENSHURST

Open all day, free entry music from 6pm booking advised on 01892 870306or online at www. thebottlehouseinnpenshurst.co.uk

22/09 The Management Acoustic

29/09 Sorrel Nation

THE COMPASSES INN, 45 LITTLE MOUNT SION

Open all day, free entry live music normally from 7.30pm unless stated

28/09 Squeeze A Crowd

THE ROYAL OAK PUB, PROSPECT ROAD

Open all day, free entry live music normally from 8pm unless stated

AN EVENING WITH MICHAEL PORTILLO

23/09 The Goodness

30/09 Live music (TBC)

EVEN FLOW CAFE, ST JOHN’S ROAD

All event information and tickets available at www.evenflowuk.com

28/09 Open Mic Night

If you are a venue local to Tunbridge Wells that hosts regular live music or even if it’s a one-off event, concert or festival, contact Paul at least six weeks in advance of your event date with the following details:

• Name and address of venue

• Date and time of event

THE GEORGE & DRAGON, LAMBERHURST

Open all day, free entry, music from 8pm

20/09 Open Mic / Jam session all welcome

27/09 Open Mic / Jam session all welcome

• Name of event and name of act(s)

• Ticket link and/or website (please state if free entry)

• 1 x high resolution (300 dpi) landscape jpeg (performer only, no posters)

• Please state photo credit if required paul@paulduntonandguests.com

MON 6 NOV | 7.30PM

ASSEMBLYHALLTHEATRE.CO.UK ASSEMBLY HALL THEATRE | TUNBRIDGE WELLS 01892 530613

39 Wednesday September 20 | 2023 Gig Guide
VIOLET JIVE SORREL NATION
insurance
a local office means we’re never far away if you need us. Give us a call or pop into: Tunbridge Wells, 55 High Street, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1XU 01892 337488 P G Bowring & S Joubert is an appointed representative of The National Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Society Limited (No. 111982). Registered in England. Registered Office: Tiddington Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 7BJ. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. A Member of the Association of British Insurers. ADCOM-BOOM-GEN2-A4
YOUR BUSINESS, OUR SAFE HANDS Have a real conversation about your
Having

Divorce is difficult, on so many levels. But, as lawyers who help families untie bonds and reshape their future, we see the opportunity it brings for people to move on, equipped for the next phase in their lives.

Separation and divorce are often emotionally charged events that can leave you feeling lost, frustrated, and uncertain. During such challenging times, you need more than just legal advice; you require a comprehensive support system that upholds your best interests and grants you the peace of mind to navigate through the ordeal with confidence.

One common myth we’re always keen to dispel is that divorce will be an entirely negative and hostile experience. The truth is that it doesn’t have to be.

Our experience allows us to guide you on some important steps you can take to help alleviate the impact on you of the divorce/separation process:

HAVE THE RIGHT PEOPLE AROUND YOU

This is where our expert divorce services come into play. At Thomas Mansfield Family Law, we understand the intricacies of divorce law and family matters like the back of our hand. Based locally in Tunbridge Wells, our solicitors have decades of experience guiding individuals through the divorce process, and we know that helping our clients prepare for divorce is one of the most important stages in the process.

Surround yourself with people who’ll help and support you. Friends and family really come into their own at times like these, so lean on those that truly have your back. Seek out the right legal and financial help, too. Divorce can be a long and intense process, so it’s worth investing time in finding professionals you click with.

BE PREPARED

Go into divorce with your eyes wide open. That means

Imagine you’re about to run a marathon. Would you show up at the starting line without months of preparation? Similarly, in the case of divorce, coming prepared means you’re less likely to trip over obstacles that could lead to financial hardships, emotional turmoil, or complications with child custody. Lack of preparation could not only prolong the process but also impact the outcome significantly.

Financial readiness

One of the biggest concerns during a divorce is finances. Assets, debts, and ongoing responsibilities need to be accurately represented. Gathering financial documents might be the last thing on your mind in emotional times, but being prepared gives you a vantage point in negotiations. Our experts will assist you in collating essential financial documents, helping you plan for a sustainable future beyond divorce.

Emotional resilience

understanding what the process will involve, as well as what divorce will mean for you and your family. It also means getting your financial affairs in order. While divorce settlements are sometimes based on a ‘broad brush’ division of assets, time will need to be spent documenting those things owned jointly (the house, for example), and those owned separately - investments and valuables, perhaps. The earlier you can get your paperwork organised (and don’t be afraid to ask for help), the better able your solicitor will be to start working towards getting you the best outcome.

CONSIDER MEDIATION

Divorce can be emotionally draining, and it’s easy to make impulsive decisions you may later regret. A key part of preparation involves building emotional resilience. We work closely with qualified therapists and counsellors to offer you emotional support alongside legal assistance. We aim to provide a comprehensive service that cares for your well-being at every step of the journey.

Divorce doesn’t always need to be fought in the courts. Where two people are able and willing to work together to agree the terms of their divorce, mediation can be a great way of achieving a settlement. The mediator acts as an independent third party, helping a couple work through their issues and reach a resolution. The parties remain in control, as opposed to a judge imposing

Child centered approach

For couples with children, navigating the complexities of custody and co-parenting agreements is another challenge. Being prepared in this context means considering the best

interests of your children first. Our team specialises in child custody negotiations, aiming to produce the least disruptive arrangements for the young lives affected by divorce.

What our clients say

terms. It can be quicker and less expensive than court. And the emphasis on collaboration can even begin to build bridges, which can be particularly important for those who need to maintain a more positive ongoing relationship with each other.

ACCEPT THAT DIVORCE WON’T BE EASY

and promote cooperation, ensuring that the process is as stress-free as possible. We’ll listen to you, understand your needs, and work diligently to achieve the best outcome for you and your family.

PUT YOUR CHILDREN FIRST

“Simplicity, listening and professionalism. At a very stressful time the whole process was made clear, helpful and concise.” Camille

Most separated parents are conscious of their children being caught in the middle of their relationship breakdown. But the reality of divorce is that children’s needs and wishes are not always met; parents can be easily and unintentionally distracted by fighting their own corner. Our advice is always to try to step into the child’s shoes. What would he or she want? What would be in his or her best interests?

“Kate and her team were beyond professional, always there for me and I know they genuinely cared not only about achieving the best outcome but actually about me and my well-being.” Tracey

“Clear communications, and an honest and authentic response to challenging questions. They also listen, and properly listen, to concerns. I always felt that I received excellent guidance and understood the options before me.” Bill

Sometimes this means backing down when you don’t want to, and that can be hard. But keep sight of the bigger picture.

Our approach

We believe that a divorce doesn’t have to be a battle. Our approach is designed to minimize conflict

If you find yourself facing the difficult decision of divorce, make sure you have the right team by your side. At Thomas Mansfield Family Law, we’re committed to supporting you every step of the way.

Clients tell us that, during the most difficult parts of their divorce, they were spurred on by remembering ‘why’. That really is key. No one embarks on divorce lightly. They do it because their relationship is irreparable, despite best efforts. And they do it to find happiness elsewhere. Divorce is the stepping stone to getting there.

Contact us today for a free call back.

Contact us today to talk about your situation.

TUNBRIDGE WELLS LONDON SEVENOAKS TONBRIDGE MAIDSTONE Call us today on 01892 337540 For more information visit our website: www.tmfamilylaw.co.uk TUNBRIDGE WELLS LONDON SEVENOAKS TONBRIDGE MAIDSTONE TUNBRIDGE WELLS LONDON SEVENOAKS TONBRIDGE MAIDSTONE TUNBRIDGE WELLS LONDON SEVENOAKS TONBRIDGE MAIDSTONE
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LONDON SEVENOAKS TONBRIDGE MAIDSTONE Call us today on 01892 337540 For more information visit our website: www.tmfamilylaw.co.uk TUNBRIDGE WELLS LONDON SEVENOAKS TONBRIDGE MAIDSTONE TUNBRIDGE
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346376 FAMILYLAW@THOMASMANSFIELD.COM TUNBRIDGE WELLS LONDON SEVENOAKS TONBRIDGE MAIDSTONE Call us today on 01892 337540 For more information visit our website: www.tmfamilylaw.co.uk TUNBRIDGE WELLS LONDON SEVENOAKS TONBRIDGE MAIDSTONE TUNBRIDGE WELLS LONDON SEVENOAKS TONBRIDGE MAIDSTONE TUNBRIDGE WELLS LONDON SEVENOAKS TONBRIDGE MAIDSTONE Turning the page: your guide to a smoother divorce with Thomas Mansfield Family Law
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Kate Rayner Head of Family Law

‘I’ve always had a vivid imagination ever since I was a young child...’

Since retiring from his career as a Fleet Street journalist in 2015, former Skinners’ School alumnus Tony Bassett has carved out a second career as a crime writer. Over the past eight years he has published a number of thrillers, the latest of which is entitled ‘Seat 97’. Here he tells Eileen Leahy more about this pageturning story about a man who is shot dead at a concert that’s just about to begin at the Royal Albert Hall

Tony Bassett has always had a love for words. After editing his in-house magazine at the Skinners’ School, he went on to enjoy a long and successful career on Fleet Street. After having worked as a journalist for over four decades, eight years ago Tony decided to turn his hand to crime writing and has, to date, published seven novels.

The latest is entitled Seat 97 and is inspired by one of London’s most famous buildings and venues: the Royal Albert Hall.

“After watching one of my favourite singers, Gladys Knight, give a brilliant performance there four years ago, I left with the sounds of soul classics still ringing in my ears – together with the kernel of an idea for a crime thriller,” explains Tony.

“My partner, Lin, and I had arrived early for the concert, eager to avoid any lastminute rush. As we sat in the plush, velvet seats inside the iconic building I couldn’t help but be inspired by our surroundings.

“It crossed my mind that if the sound of early concertgoers taking their seats were to be suddenly shattered by a gunshot, it

‘If the sound of concert goers taking their seats were to be suddenly shattered by a gunshot, it could make a dramatic and intriguing starting point for a novel’

could make a dramatic and intriguing starting point for a novel.”

Tony explains that as the concept developed in his mind, he visualised an assassin hiding behind the huge red velvet curtains at the back of the stalls.

“I’ve always had a vivid imagination since my childhood!” he smiles.

“Once the assassin’s intended victim had taken their seat, the trigger would be released. I imagined the dead man slumping forward, to the consternation of ticket holders nearby. And that was it: all of a sudden I had the makings of a novel which, for the first time in my writing career, was going to be set in London.”

Tony’s first two novels, ‘Smile of the Stowaway’ and ‘The Lazarus Charter’ were both set here in Kent while the other four – which included ‘Out for Revenge’ and ‘The Crossbow Stalker’, formed part of a series of books all of which were located in the Midlands.

Once Tony had the initial seeds of his new story sewn up, he reveals that over the next few days after that visit to the Royal Albert

Hall he had a multitude of other ideas swirling around.

“This included everything from potential principal characters and back-stories for those people as well as potential witnesses, suspects and other locations, in addition to Kensington’s Royal Albert Hall.”

After he had sat down to begin writing chapter one of ‘Seat 97’, Tony says that he decided the hero was not going to be a detective, as had been the case with some of his other novels. But instead it was going to be a journalist.

“I spent more than 40 years working in journalism, but after switching to writing novels a few years ago, I originally thought I would use my knowledge of police work to shape my books. But now here was my chance to tap into my lengthy reporting experience – mostly spent in the capital – to produce a journalistic character.”

He devised one ‘Nick Colton’ who Tony describes as ‘hard-working and enthusiastic.’

“It soon became clear to me that he would be investigating the murder at the concert in tandem with the police,” adds Tony.

The book took him nearly four months to write and once it was done Tony says he put it to one side as he was still heavily involved in writing books for his Midlands crime series, which features the characters of DCI Gavin Roscoe and DS Sunita Roy.

“I was delighted when, earlier this year, I happened to mention to my publisher at The Book Folks that I had a novel set in London which I wished to have published at some point.

“The publisher was quite enthusiastic and, after I had personally edited the book further, I sent them the manuscript and waited in anticipation to hear back. I’m pleased to say they liked the book, although they had misgivings about my provisional title: Lethal Ticket!”

After a few tweaks, Tony reveals that the book was re-titled and subsequently published in ebook, paperback and

hardcover versions.

It’s gone down well with Tony’s fans who have described it as ‘fast-paced’ and a ‘complex whodunnit’.

“One reviewer commented that they really liked that Nick was a journalist rather than the typical flawed detective you get in most

crime novels. I have to admit that I am as surprised as anyone that this 263-page thriller could have developed from an evening spent at a soul concert!”

Tony Bassett’s new novel Seat 97 is available to buy, along with his other crime novels from Amazon.

42 Arts Wednesday September 20 | 2023

Tuning up for another season of fine live classical music

Having celebrated its centenary last year, the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra is back for another season. Eileen Leahy talks to its chair Frances Armstrong about the exciting new programme…

THE Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra (RTWSO) opens its 2023-24 season on October 1, with Joo Yeon Sir’s dazzling performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto at the Assembly Hall theatre. As always, the concert will be conducted by longtime RTWSO member Roderick Dunk.

The concert will feature select pieces by Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Rachmaninoff.

The RTWSO is made up of gifted, local musicians and professional orchestral players from London and the South East. It often performs with internationally renowned artists.

And its chair Frances Armstrong is very excited about the forthcoming season.

“This series of concerts embodies the essence of the orchestra: a commitment to artistic excellence and the joy of sharing beautiful music with the community.”

Frances adds that having celebrated its centenary year in 2022, the RTWSO is still going from strength to strength.

“We are incredibly proud to have become a jewel in the crown of the

cultural scene for Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas,” she says.

“Featuring world-class soloists and a diverse range of works, this new series of concerts promises to be another great success for the orchestra as it continues to entertain and inspire audiences of all ages!

“We believe passionately in encouraging music-making, nurturing

new talent and enhancing the skills of players of all ages. We take great pleasure in performing an enjoyable and diverse range of orchestral concerts that are designed to inspire all music lovers.”

Tickets cost from £22 per concert or you can purchase a season ticket. For more details about the season, see: assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk

43 Wednesday September 20 | 2023 Arts
Picture: Denys Clarke RODERICK DUNK

Celebrate Christmas

Christmas Day Lunch

A delicious festive spread served at the Brasserie, including a glass of complimentary bubbles.

12:00pm & 2.45pm 25th December 2023

£99 per person and £49.50 for children

Christmas Getaway Package

A 2-night stay, commencing on 24th December including breakfast, festive dining and Christmas lunch.

Prices start from £595 with upgrades available

Festive Jazz Night at The Brasserie

Taste our festive 3 course set menu, before enjoying the sounds of timeless hits.

Thursday 14th December 7pm-11pm

£44 per person

(£10 deposit per person required)

Private Celebrations

Whether you’re indulging in The Brasserie or dancing the night away in our beautiful Function Room, our event team promises a tailor made celebration. Bespoke packages available

Christmas Party Nights

Our shared Christmas party nights at One Warwick Park Hotel include festive dining, a Christmas cocktail and a live DJ.

£54 per person

Breakfast with Santa

Join us for a delicious breakfast with Santa Claus at One Warwick Park Hotel.

9:30am – 11:30am on 16th, & 24th December 2023

Tickets £18.50 per adult and £9.25 for children

Bookings can be made via our website onewarwickpark.co.uk

1 WARWICK PARK, TUNBRIDGE WELLS, KENT, TN2 5TA
01892 520587 @onewarwickpark

Vintage luxury handbags arrive in town

In response to customer demand, designer handbags are now available for the luxury fashion enthusiasts of Tunbridge Wells, says Rudolph Hamilton of Pushkin Antiques

and preferences. Now, in response to feedback from its valued clientele, Pushkin Antiques is introducing a stunning range of luxury women’s handbags, including coveted brands like Hermès Birkin bags, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and more.

exclusive destination for discerning shoppers.

Our founder, Alexander Pushkin said: “We’ve always strived

can view these exquisite handbags by appointment. Each bag has been meticulously curated to ensure that it meets Pushkin Antiques’ stringent quality standards and aligns with the aesthetics of the brand.

Craftmanship

In a resounding testament to the power of customer feedback and dedication to meeting local demands, Pushkin Antiques, a renowned name in luxury goods, has made a significant addition to its showroom offerings. The iconic establishment is now presenting a dazzling range of luxury women’s handbags that cater to the discerning fashionistas of Tunbridge Wells. Situated in the heart of Tunbridge Wells, Pushkin Antiques has recently celebrated its 2nd birthday in the High Street. Known for its curated selection of exquisite antiques, art and collectibles, the establishment has built a reputation for catering to the town’s evolving tastes

The decision to expand into luxury handbags was driven by Pushkin Antiques’ commitment to meeting the desires of its patrons. Listening attentively to the demands of the Tunbridge Wells community, the team at Pushkin Antiques recognised the growing interest in luxury fashion and sought to provide an

to offer the finest items that resonate with our customers’ tastes.

“Our expansion into luxury handbags is a reflection of our commitment to evolve with the changing preferences of our valued clientele. Tunbridge Wells deserves nothing but the best, and we are dedicated to delivering just that.”

Our showroom, renowned for its opulent ambience and tasteful displays, now features a dedicated section where patrons

The addition of Hermès Birkin bags, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and other prestigious labels to Pushkin Antiques’ inventory is expected to make the establishment a go-to destination for luxury fashion enthusiasts in Tunbridge Wells and beyond. These iconic handbags are renowned for their craftsmanship, style, and timeless appeal, making them highly sought-after accessories.

Pushkin Antiques invites patrons to schedule an appointment to explore the new collection and experience first-hand a blend of heritage, elegance, and luxury. The team is excited to offer a personalised shopping experience, where customers can receive expert guidance and insights into their purchase.

To schedule an appointment or for more information about Pushkin Antiques and their new luxury handbag collection, please visit our website or contact us directly. pushkinantiques.com

HOUSE CALLS THIS SEPTEMBER IN YOUR AREA

45 Wednesday September 20 | 2023 Antiques PUSHKIN ANTIQUES (Appointment Only) Call Clive on 07860 942726 GOLD • SILVER • WATCHES REMEMBER CLIVE IS ALWAYS READY TO MAKE YOU A GENUINE NO OBLIGATION OFFER There is no obligation to sell, so call Clive Today to arrange a home visit at no charge and at your convenience. He will advise you personally on your items and absolute discretion is guaranteed. Clive Attrell is back and available throughout Kent & East Sussex for home antiques valuations Free antiques valuations by ITV and BBC television personality Clive Attrell. Clive is an experienced and internationally respected antiques valuer with over 40 Years’ experience in the business. BOOK NOW Clive Attrell is Kent County Council Trading Standards Approved: Reg No 15618 TOP PRICES PAID FOR • GOLD (in any condition) • SILVER (in any condition) • WATCHES (working or not) • COSTUME JEWELLERY • MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS • OBJECTS OF INTEREST • KRUGERRANDS • OLD COINS • MEDALS • SWORDS • MILITARIA • CLOCKS • PAINTINGS • BRONZES • PRINTS / BOOKS • CHINESE CERAMICS • SOVEREIGNS • DIAMONDS • TOYS / GAMES • POSTCARDS • TAXIDERMY • FIGURINES • ANTIQUE IVORY • JADE ITEMS
RUDOLPH HAMILTON
‘The decision to expand into luxury handbags was driven by Pushkin Antiques’ commitment to meeting the desires of its patrons’

Motoring News

This week…

Twins set for MG Shanghai trip ◆ UK’s biggest EV charging hub ◆ Lotus launches electric saloon ◆

UK’s largest electric car charging centre opens in Birmingham

Twin British adventurers to drive from London to Shanghai

TWO identical British twins are setting off on a 10,000-mile adventure in an electric car from London to Shanghai.

Devon-born Ross and Hugo Turner have undertaken several gruelling challenges, including rowing the Atlantic, with the pair being motivated to take on travel adventures after Hugo sustained a broken neck when he was 17 that led to six months of surgery.

Now, the brothers are setting off from Westminster Bridge in London and are using the new electric MG Cyberster as wheels to get to Shanghai, China. It’s MG’s first new sports car in more than two decades, and also the first two-seat electric roadster.

The Turner twins will initially tour the UK in the Cyberster as part of a UK preview event of the car, visiting places such as Loch Lomond, Snowdonia and also MG’s birthplace of Oxford.

On October 2, the proper European leg of

the event will see them crossing the Channel and visiting countries such as the Netherlands, Slovakia and Spain.

Following the European part of the trip, the pair will be reunited with the electric car (which will be shipped separately) in the Middle East, starting in Jordan, before visiting countries such as Qatar and Oman, before then going into more eastern parts of Asia. This includes India, Thailand and Vietnam before making their way to Shanghai. This is where MG’s parent company SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) is based.

Hugo Turner said: “We’re going to be having to charge this car regularly as we go across the world, so that’s going to give us the perfect opportunity to experience more of the countries, the culture, the people, the foods from the places that we’re going to be travelling through. Cars like this open up adventure, and this is going to be the ultimate one.”

THE largest electric car charging hub in the UK has opened at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) near Birmingham.

Capable of charging 180 electric cars at the same time, it is being operated by BP Pulse, one of the biggest players when it comes to EV charging.

Opened by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, the new ‘GigaHub’ is located at the UK’s largest exhibition space. The NEC is said to attract seven million visitors annually. It is located near major junctions for the M42 and M6 motorways.

The hub is made up of 30 150kW rapid DC chargers, capable of charging most electric car batteries up to 80 per cent in around half an hour, as well as a further 150 points for slower 7kW chargers. There are designated accessibility charging bays too.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “This is the biggest private investment in electric charging in the UK and is a huge vote of confidence in Britain’s role as a leader in green industries.

“The ground-breaking site will be a major

Lotus Emeya revealed as firm’s new high-performance electric saloon

LOTUS is again growing its line-up with the reveal of the Emeya – a new electric saloon car due on sale in 2024.

Though the British firm is best known for its sports cars, now with the financial backing of Chinese automotive giant Geely, it is expanding its line-up away from its traditional remit. Its Eletre will shortly be launching as not only its first electric car, but also its first SUV.

Second in its range of EVs will be the new Emeya, revealed overnight as a striking new electric four-door GT car. Set to rival the Porsche Taycan and Tesla Model S, the Emeya gets a striking, sporty silhouette with prominent side sills and bold front and rear lighting. The yellow and black of the launch car adds further flair too.

The Emeya will come with a dual-motor powertrain, with several versions available producing up to 892bhp. Described as “one of the fastest electric GTs in the world”, Lotus claims a top speed of “more than

155mph”, and a 0-60mph acceleration time of “under 2.8 seconds”.

Coming with a large 102kWh battery, Lotus hasn’t yet confirmed the range of the Emeya but has said that it will be compatible with 350kW DC rapid charging, which will be able to add 93 miles of range in just five minutes in ideal conditions.

The car will also come with various active aero elements, including the front grille, rear diffuser and spoiler. Lotus says this helps it to achieve ‘Hyperstance’, and “sets a new standard in the GT segment for ride and handling excellence”.

Lotus says the Emeya uses a range of sustainable materials to reduce its carbon footprint, with a “luxury thread” that is

made from offcuts from the fashion industry.

Further details of the Emeya are set to be announced later in the year ahead of production and sales starting in 2024. While Lotus continues to produce its new Emira sports car at its factory in Hethel, Norwich, the Emeya will instead be produced at a facility in China.

transport hub for the future and marks a significant step in our rollout of electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the country.”

BP Pulse worked with the EV Network (EVN), which was the investor for the project, after signing a long-term contract with the NEC.

The charging firm has said it “plans to roll out hundreds of hubs by 2030”, in places such as urban areas, on trunk roads, motorways, retail parks and hotels.

BP Pulse already has three GigaHubs in the UK – one at Park Lane, London, and also at Gatwick Airport and Kettering.

Akira Kirton, Vice President of BP Pulse UK, said: “The transition to electric vehicles is evolving at pace which is why BP Pulse is focused on accelerating the development of the UK’s EV infrastructure, delivering the right charging speeds, in the right locations and investing up to £1 billion to do so.

“This new, nationally significant BP Pulse Gigahub at the heart of the UK’s road network, is another great example of our strategy in action.”

COACH TOUR TO SCOTLAND 5 DAYS £299

LOCH AWE HOTEL ARGYLL TripAdvisor

THURSDAY 23RD NOVEMBER

MOUNTAINS & MISTLETOE TOUR INCLUDES:

- 4 nights half board

- Excursions

- Nightly entertainment

- Luxury coach travel

PICK UP FROM: Tunbridge Wells, Southborough, Tonbridge, Hildenborough, Sevenoaks, Swanley, Dartford, Birchanger Services

LOCHS.COM 01389 713713

46 Motoring Wednesday September 20 | 2023
Picture: Lotus Picture: MG Picture: BP Pulse
H Engineering Ltd, Little Cacketts Farm, Haymans Hill, Horsmonden, Kent, TN12 8BX info@h-engineering.com | 01892 549042 WWW.H-ENGINEERING.COM H ENGINEERING PROUDLY UNDERTAKE THE RESTORATION OF CLASSIC & VINTAGE VEHICLES. H-Engineering Advert - TOTW.indd 2 06/07/2023 15:11
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