Petition calls for community to own commons

    Rusthall Common

    A former councillor determined to ensure the ‘vital green heart of the town’ comes under community ownership is calling for the public’s support.

    Terry Cload, who lives in Pembury, has started a petition asking for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s help in securing the commons for the town.

    The green energy consultant, who served as a county and borough councillor, came up with the idea after a public meeting in February, at which Targetfollow discussed the commons’ future, but was spurred into action by last week’s Times.

    He said: “There were about 150 people at the meeting and I think everyone apart from Targetfollow wanted the commons in community ownership, rather than run by a property development company.

    “They said they wanted to protect their assets but I don’t see their present attitude to people in Rusthall being very conducive to a good relationship.

    “The petition calls for the council to make bringing the commons into community ownership as a key objective. That’s a tall order but if I could get somewhere in that direction, I’d be very happy.

    “Purely and simply, I am interested in the future of Tunbridge Wells. I wish to make it very clear that the vital green heart of the town should be owned by the community rather than by a property developer whose main interest (quite rightly) is in making money.”

    Cllr Alan McDermott, TWBC deputy leader and cabinet member for planning, said: “The commons are one of the defining natural features of Tunbridge Wells, they play an active part in the life of the town and we are very proud of them.

    “Leader David Jukes has said the council would not consider buying the commons. We have a close interest and are represented on the conservators, which looks after management of the commons, supported by the Friends group.

    “Council plans refer to the area as a significant asset which should be cherished and carefully managed. The commons’ future is well protected by legislation and planning designations, and is listed as an Asset of Community Value.’

    To sign the petition, visit www.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/council/have-your-say/petitions