CIVIC CENTRE - The Big Debate

Preparations are being made at Tunbridge Wells Town Hall on Wednesday for possibly the biggest debate in the Council's history since the debate over the original Town Hall complex seven decades ago. After months of discussions, the Council is to debate whether to proceed with a new Civic Centre against a background of disagreement. The scheme has been promoted by the Council as an answer to a positive answer to the decline in the Town Hall complex, and the Assembly Hall in particular. The proposal is for a £90m. theatre and civic offices with an adjoining replacement car park next to Calverly Grounds. Opposers fear that the residents will be left with a mountain of debt, repayable over 50 years, for what amounts to a 'vanity' project.

Councillor Julian Stanyer said:

"I have voted against this project from the outset and intend to do so at the debate, not because I do not like the idea of new cultural amenities, but because it is simply unaffordable. The Council's net income is about £7.5m a year but debt will consume about a third of that. I think it is totally unsustainable."