Tunbridge Wells councillor makes link between Civic Complex and bin collection costs

    The £700,000-a-year that the Borough Council hopes to generate by cutting garden waste collections will be put towards paying for the Civic Complex.

    That’s the claim of Councillor James Hannam (pictured), who has accused his own Conservative-run authority of neglecting the needs of rural areas to drive through their plans for a new theatre and town hall.

    The council (TWBC) is considering joining two neighbouring authorities in a waste collection plan to save a combined £3million a year.

    Tunbridge Wells residents would need to opt-in to have a bin of garden waste collected, a service that is currently free, at a charge of around £30 a year.

    A council spokesman previously said the move was ‘vital’ for financial security and that the timing of the decision was ‘irrespective’ of the Civic Complex.

    But Councillor Hannam, who represents Frittenden and Sissinghurst said: “It is connected and every last penny of the £700,000 we will bring in has been earmarked for the Civic Complex.

    “Garden waste charges falling predominantly on the rural areas are going to be used on the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells.”

    Last week TWBC published their RIBA Stage 3 report, a final assessment of the proposals to build on land surrounding Calverley Grounds, which stated the project would cost a gross £90million.

    The documents show that to keep to their financial plan, the council need to find £2.3million in cost reductions or income by 2023.

    An eight point funding strategy states one move might be to ‘review options for a new recycling and waste collection contract in 2019’.

    The Civic Complex plan has already proved controversial.

    A council spokesman said: “The timing of the civic development proposals and the renewal of the waste contract brings the two issues together.

    “We have used garden waste to illustrate where savings could be made and we would expect savings of this level to be made with a contract of this size.

    “Until the details of the waste contract are decided we will not know definitely where the savings will come from.”