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Christmas greetings from the Leader of the Council

A Christmas message from the Leader of the Council, Councillor Ben Chapelard.

As Father Christmas makes his final preparations before his long journey begins, I wanted to wish you all a safe, peaceful and relaxing Christmas and a happy and healthy 2024!

This has been an eventful year and a challenging one for many. Amongst the joyous national events of 2023 were the Coronation of King Charles III and the success of the England Women’s football team in reaching the World Cup Final. Locally, Tunbridge Wells U13 Girls Cricket Team did us proud by impressively winning a national trophy at Lord’s and, more recently, the Council invested in Royal Victoria Place in the hope of reenergising Royal Tunbridge Wells town centre. The year ends with more good news as the owners of the former ABC cinema site have confirmed that they will start construction work in the new year. Finally – after 23 years – this will be the last festive season for the grot spot!

It can be hard to stay positive with tragic reports of the war in the Ukraine and the Israel-Gaza conflict filling our screens, not forgetting our own national hardships. Unfortunately, inflation remained high this year, taking its toll on many in our borough. Sadly, we live in a society where too many still rely on foodbanks and our borough is no different. This year, our Borough Partnership administration launched a Community Support Fund for charities to support our neediest residents. These organisations did amazing work, including providing tens of thousands of meals to those most in need where we live. Whilst I am proud to say we will continue the Community Support Fund in the new year, it is a very sad state of affairs that some of our neighbours do not have enough food to feed their families.

Local organisations, such as community food bank and larders and their wonderful volunteers, will help put smiles on the faces of many this Christmas. A big thank you goes out to all those who selflessly give up their time to volunteer in our borough for a variety of different causes.

It has been a challenging yet exciting year for the Borough Partnership administration. In 2024 we will continue to attempt to balance the books sensitively, working hard to bring about exciting change to the borough, despite the challenge of limited local government finances.
I look forward to keeping you updated on our work throughout 2024!

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