Rusthall Village Association

DATE: Wednesday 16th November 2016
VENUE: Rusthall Village Club
TIME: 1930 hours

Committee members present: Alex Britcher: Chair, Sue White, Hazel Duncombe, Beryl Woodall, Nigel Suckling

Apologies received from the following committee member: Ann Tyler

1. Alex Britcher welcomed everyone to the meeting.


Amy Pay – Osteopath working at Botanica

Amy qualified as an osteopath 7 years ago from the European School of Osteopathy with a Master's Degree. She has done some NHS work and now works at Botanica 2 days per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She also teaches Pilates and does 1:1 sessions.

Amy summed up Osteopathy in one word – Movement. Chiropracters work with the spine and the nervous system, and physiotheraphists with the soft tissues / muscles and exercise. Osteopathy is an overlap of both these and looks at the whole body – skeletons, muscles etc. Osteopaths look for any restrictions in the body and work to make them move using a variety of techniques – including soft tissue work, stretching and manipulation.

Amy is trained to do Western Medical Acupuncture – a technique to release tight muscles. She also does Sports Taping. Some of her work is helping people with headaches, which can result from tight neck and shoulder muscles. For arthritis sufferers, she can work with tight muscles and joints. Babies who have had a difficult birth can benefit from cranial osteopathy.

Her charges are £40 per session of approx ½ – Ύ hour, but often sessions are only necessary every 4 – 6 weeks or so.

Amy was asked if she accepts referrals from GP's. She does, but the NHS does not pay the bill.

William Benson – Chief Executive Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Mr Benson explained that there are 3 types of council – The County Council, which looks after such things as Education and Highways; The Parish Council which deals with local issues; and the Borough Council which deals with such things as planning, arts, culture, housing, benefits, the cemetery etc.

He explained his role was not as a politician or a planner or a highways engineer, so any questions relating to those issues should not be addressed to him.

Tunbridge Wells Borough has about 116,000 residents and is growing. A recent survey amongst the residents showed that 94% thought it a good place to live, 98% thought it was a safe place to live, 75% were satisfied with the way the Borough Council was run and 73% thought they got value for money.

Mr Benson then went on to say that the main challenges for the Council were:

1. Finance. The Borough Council used to be funded by a grant from the government, through the Council tax. From next year there will be no money from the government and only 10% of the council tax will be kept in the Borough. To compensate for the shortfall, it will be necessary to make better use of the assets they have, and look at selling off resources that are no longer needed. Another way is to let residents or groups take control – an example of this is the Pantiles and the way the shopowners put on events. “User Pays” - making money in car parking, use of the crematorium etc – money from these will go to fund necessary services.

2. Centralisation. 72% of money from the Borough goes to the Government, as opposed to much less in other European countries

3. House Building and Planning. The Government has dictated that all Boroughs should have a 5 year plan for house building. 300/350 houses per year used to be built in Tunbridge Wells, but this will need to be nearer 600. The infrastructure of the area is affected by an increase in the number of houses.

However there are plenty of positive aspects of the Borough. These include location, tourism, leisure, excellent education and good employers. Funding has been successfully obtained for the A21 widening; £70m has been invested in the North Farm development; Money has been invested in parks; £1.5m spent on the Assembly Hall; we have an improved cycling infrastructure.

For the future, a bid of over £4m has been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Funding for the Cultural and Learning Hub; it is planned to extend and improve sports facilities; there are plans for a new theatre and office complex. There will be a change in the way the Council is run – doing things digitally will require less employees, thus saving money.

Q & A session

Q – what influence do Parish Councils and the Civic Society have with planning applications? A - All applications have to be based on planning policy but the Planning Office work with the parish councils. Parish Councils also produce parish plans.

Q – The Borough Council are obviously doing a good job. Is there scope to take on more from other areas, for example transport? A – the Government is looking into devolution, so it is a possibility. WB is also talking to the KCC about taking some things over.

Q – Are you aware of International students who come to Tunbridge Wells? In other towns a space is provided for international students to meet, but there is nothing in Tunbridge Wells area. A – agreed we could do more, but once again it comes down to finance. Suggested that the questioner comes to chat it through. The Borough Council could act as a lead and provide publicity for such things, but could not take it on.

Q – Why should our Borough Council money subsidise other boroughs who do not run their councils so efficiently? A – there is a chance that this could change in the future.

Q – What are the current plans for the use of the Town Hall? A – This is an area that needs work, as it does not run efficiently. It is closed at weekends, so is not able to be used at that time. No decisions have yet been made however.

A number of the members of the audience thanked Mr Benson for a very interesting and clear talk and discussion. The chair expressed her thanks as well on behalf of the committee.

Mr Benson then left the meeting.

* Break for Raffle ticket sales and socialising *


Fiona Gifford was nominated as a new committee member by Alex Britcher and seconded by Jenny Blackburn. Fiona said that she had lived in the village for 5 years and was interested in what is going on in the area. She likes to get involved in activities and feels she will be an asset to the RVA.

Borough Councillor reports
Thelma Huggett: Councillor Huggett had nothing of note to report

Rusthall Parish Council Reports
Chair Barry Edwards
• The spring at the top of Lower Green Road which has been causing problems for some years has now been stopped and the road re-surfaced. In order to do this the trough was moved and the water diverted.
• The village Christmas tree will be erected on Friday 9th December, followed by a carol service led by the school choir. Mince pies and mulled wine will be available in the parish rooms
• The Christmas lights will be switched on in the last week in November.

Jenny Blackburn
• Ice skating in Calverley Park will run from 18th November to 2nd January
• Paws for Food are holding a Christmas shopping event on 8th December. There will be mulled wine and nibbles in the shop
• The Mayor's Toy Appeal is running again this year. If you have any toys in good condition that you no longer require, they can be given in to Town and Country Housing or to the Library and Art Gallery. Last year 205 children in the town were helped by this appeal

Maggie Fraser
• The zebra crossing on Rusthall High Street has been refreshed and the belisha beacons checked over.
• A new school sign with lights at the Nellington Road / Longmeads junction is to be erected.

Alex Britcher
• Alex attended the Love Where You Live awards where Ellie Miles of Rusthall was shortlisted as a runner up. Ellie plays rugby

5. A.O.B

1. John Barber said that the island crossing on Langton Road should be funded this year, but that the crossing on Major Yorks Road will not go ahead this financial year

2. Clive Evans reported that a car had been burned out on Coach Road last week. The police had been involved.

3. Alex Britcher reported that Rusthall Community Arts has won an award of £750 from the Heart of the Community run by the Courier and AXA PPP. The RCA events are advertised on its Facebook page as well as on posters around the village.

4. Vic Webb reminded the meeting that there are many indoor bowls clubs, which is a good winter activity. He is involved in the Tunbridge Wells Bowls Club in Hawkenbury.

5. Cinema news: On Saturday 19th November Rusthall Community Cinema will be showing Lady in the Van. This will be preceeded by a short film shot at the White Hart in Lower Green Road. The director and producer will be coming to introduce it. It stars Brian Murphy who some will remember from his TV appearances in Last of the Summer Wine and also George & Mildred. Another of the actors, David Barry will also be coming to sign his books.

6. Alex Britcher said that the Royal Victoria Place and Tunbridge Wells town Christmas lights will be switched on on Thursday 17th November, and that Santa would be travelling round the town on an old Routemaster bus.

7. Dennis Penfold said that a celebration of the Good Oftsted report would take place at St Paul's primary school on Wednesday 23rd November from 6.30 – 8pm. There would also be a display of the history of schools in Rusthall.

The raffle raised £26
Meeting closed at 21.30
The next meeting will be on 18th January 2017

Chair – Alex Britcher 07967 011 467
Website editor Nigel Suckling 01892 544345

Minutes: Sue White