Mayor makes a splash on his debut

    David Neve unveils £1.7million sports centre facelift during his first engagement as Mayor

    Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre

    Mayor David Neve was quick to dive into his new role when he unveiled the revamped Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre on Friday.

    The reopening came after the centre had undergone a £1.7million facelift by leisure charity Fusion Lifestyle, which runs the facility alongside the Borough Council.

    A new, 70-plus station gym, a dedicated virtual indoor cycle studio, basketball courts, indoor tennis courts, three refurbished pools and a new health suite, café and softplay area were among the improvements.

    Speaking at the event, the new Mayor recalled that the likes of Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade and former England rugby captain Martin Corry had attended the nearby Tunbridge Wells Grammar Schools.

    He added: “I hope soon that Tunbridge Wells will have such greats, and with facilities like this I believe there is at least a sporting chance.”

    It was his first engagement but not his first pun in office, since he took up the mayoralty from Cllr David Elliott at a mayor-making ceremony two days prior.

    The ceremony gave those gathered a taste of what to expect from the Liberal Democrat Mayor Neve, who promised a year of puns and ‘groanable jokes’.

    As if to emphasise the point, he said his new ‘catchphrase’ while in office would be: “I shall be brief and some say for a mayor, that’s a relief.”

    He also promised to make it a ‘fun year’ and jokingly told councillors he would be keeping an eye on their leader David Jukes in order to ‘keep him under control’.

    Outgoing Mayor Councillor David Elliott congratulated Councillor Neve on his appointment and concluded his term of office by presenting a cheque for £26,000 to his chosen charity ellenor.

    For his part, Mayor Neve said he would be championing the charity Beat, which is the largest charity in the UK dedicated to helping those with eating disorders.

    Drawing on his own experience as Deputy Mayor during the previous year, he said: “To witness how we affect people and charities has to be experienced to fully understand what it means to have the Mayor and Mayoress attend a function.

    “It raises their profile and they feel their efforts have been recognised. We think people should take on board how this role promotes the borough.

    “It is a priceless thing, despite what some people may think.”

    Councillor Julia Soyke, Conservative member for Speldhurst & Bidborough, was elected Deputy Mayor at the meeting, while wife Jill Neve will take on the role of Mayoress