Chairman’s Letter September 2022


September was a sombre month with the death of The Queen. This sad news will have affected each one of us differently. As a Parish Council, our aim was to provide all residents with the opportunity to participate in the period of mourning to the extent that was right for them. This included extending the opening time of the Parish Office to provide access to the Book of Condolence outside of normal working hours.

HPC is very grateful to the Community Poppy Knitters who sprang into action to knit black armbands for our councillors and staff. Thank you so much to all involved. From my perspective, it was a great honour to read the Proclamation of our new King. Thank you to everyone who joined us for this momentous event.

There are currently two consultations affecting Hawkhurst to which I want to draw your attention. The first relates to the Air Quality Management Area on the Cranbrook Road. TWBC is consulting on the actions for inclusion in the Air Quality Action Plan. Some of these could have a significant impact on Hawkhurst residents. Therefore, I urge you to read and respond to the consultation documents on TWBC’s Talking Point website.

The second consultation relates to the Local Government Boundary Commission review of the ward boundaries for Tunbridge Wells. This runs until the 10th October and is also available on the Talking Point website. Most relevant to Hawkhurst is the proposal to change our current ward of Hawkhurst and Sandhurst to a new ward which would comprise Hawkhurst, Sandhurst, Benenden and Kilndown. Under these proposals, this much larger area would still be represented by three borough councillors.

HPC has genuine concerns about how effectively borough councillors will be able to represent residents over such a large geographical area. We will address this in our response to the Boundary Commission. However, the need for such large wards stems from TWBC’s decision to continue its system of election by thirds. If TWBC were to swap to all-out elections every four years, there would be far more scope for flexibility in determining the size of the wards, as there could be one, two, or three-member wards depending on what was most appropriate for the community in question. HPC, along with other Parish and Town Councils, has been campaigning for TWBC to revisit its decision on election by thirds. An Extraordinary meeting of TWBC Full Council has been called for Wednesday 5th October where this matter will be debated. I would urge you to contact our Borough Councillors, Godfrey Bland, Ellen Neville and Bev Palmer to let them know your views on this.

All the best,

Clare Escombe
Chairman, Hawkhurst Parish Council