Created 23-08-2004, Changed 10/11/2023, 11/11/2023
Wheelie bins - Courier 24 August 1994
Introduced – It turned out that initially the increase in waste was more like 50%
At a cost of over £1.1M Tunbridge Wells residents are having wheelie bins imposed on them. This has already resulted in a reduction of pavement width in some roads where they have already been introduced, not because of parked cars, but wheelie bins on the pavement. My own bin blew away in the high autumn winds a number of times, I eventually lost it altogether some years ago. For that reason I don’t want the inconvenience of my road or pavement cluttered with bins blown everywhere. Additionally because I compost, and take recyclables to the recycling bank. What is left is a carrier bag of rubbish every other week.
These large bins will attract more waste, as has happened else where. But that is alright for the Council because, at the time, 2 years ago when Tunbridge Wells Borough Council decided to go for wheelie bins, the council also published a recycling plan which committed it to do nothing. At the same time, I was told, the council will continue to work towards the Government target to recycle 25% of household waste, wheelie bins will do nothing towards that target.
Surely if you or I want a new bin we should purchase one. At £28 each who will profit from this wasteful idea?
Nesting birds. – printed with photo - Courier 2 April 1996
I was disappointed to discover last week contractors started clearing wood, brambles, etc. in the area where 166 houses at Barnetts Wood are to be built.
Doubly so because this will be the start of the extra traffic caused during construction, and inconvenience with road junction improvements. But also sadly hearing the nesting birds flying around in distress as their nests and territories were being destroyed. A neighbour told me that the nesting birds include Long Tail Tits. These birds will loose their territory become egg bound and the older one’s will die as they will be unable to find, at this stage, other territories.
I have written to High Weald Housing Association to inform them that birds are being disturbed during their reproduction cycle. This is most certainly contrary to European Union Directive “The Conservation of Wild Birds Directive”, EC/79/049/2-3-1979. I have asked them what legal excuse their contractors have for proceeding with clearing and if there is none would they stop. My fear is that the destruction will have been completed by the time I have an answer.
CCTV - Courier 03-97
This week I witnessed an on-the-beat cop see a boy, of say 8 years, on to a mid evening bus. I won’t say what the boy had been up to but he was well shaken having being caught doing it.
What he had been doing was naughty, he probably won’t do it again. This is what only on-the-beat policing can do, and cannot be done by a machine or surveillance camera. This type of policing is what police are very well trained for, does not show up in statistics, and addresses common worries of people.
Remembrance & cost of war - Radio 4′s PM 11-11-01 – 9/11 – not read.
Remembrance day has just passed but is the never again aspect being respected? All life is important the bombing during remembrance, muslim religious periods, and at any other time is wrong.
On the day of the terrorist bombing 11th of 9th month, a tragedy was reported in the UK that is 5 million children suffer from asthma presumably the highest yet? I think we should be remembering those who suffer by torture, oppression, war and terrorism. These are on going. Perhaps we should also consider all who's life, or liberty is taken before their time.
The bombing is to do with oil, but vehicle fumes lead to asthma, the bombing may therefore result in a double tragedy. It would be better to help the people such as of Afghanistan and leave the oil in the ground.
I travel to Turkey on 8th October the day the American bombing started, two 250 seat Aeroplanes travel together one with 15 passengers the other with 40. On the day before aid agencies advised that food should not be air dropped as some would land in mined areas, and there-by kill people.
So much evidence was claimed to exist so soon after the terrorist act in New York, I wonder if a comparison with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour and the belief that the US let it happen so they would be drawn in to the war can be drawn? Is the UK's involvement in the bombing due to a second world war debt to USA? If so the pay back is unreasonable.
Andrew H Lohmann
Created; 02-12-03, Revised: 18/04/2012, 14/09/09
Letter for publication - Euro Debate - Courier 2003
To Courier Newspaper - printed and picture shown separately
The comments letters week on the Euro debate were curiously only towards the anti point of view. I attended that meeting and found the debate not pro enough for me. I changed my mind about the EU a dozen years ago, having thought they were too idealistic, I now see that the Union is positive and effective. Although I supported, along with most of the audience, making the Euro fully our currency, I would not have made it conditional on five tests which always seem to fail, as opposed to tests that can pass.
As you expect no one could suggest a candidate which would have been against the war on Iraq, and for the peaceful resolution of conflict. The EU has prevented war in Europe between members, and it seems to be spreading a non-violent approach to resolution of conflict further afield. By comparison our country to country relationship to USA has become as a poodle, a criticism of both Mrs Thatcher and Mr Blair. The relationship seems to have changed over the 24 years since Earl Mountbatten criticism nuclear weapons. Since then there has been the invasion of British Grenada and the withdrawal of visa rights from UK citizens visiting USA.
So not only do I think it excellent to be part of the EU, together we are becoming big enough to restore our relationship as allie and friend of USA. The picture with this letter is of the Statue of Liberty, fortunately at personal level relationship's between many countries is very good.
I visited Manhattan in 1993 as guest of Jim and Barbara Munves (who many people of T/W met). Technical stuff Kodak: Gold ISO 100, Nikon with Sigma 28-85 Zoom, or Nikor 50 mm Lens.
Making local democracy work – Printed edited to just the second paragraph. - Courier 04-07-04
I could answer Ivan Armstrong’s point in Courier of 2 July 2004, “politicians let politics down”, with the old phrase “the electorate get the politicians they deserve”. Having said that I think public, politicians, and the media all play part in making the status quo:- indifference to elections – TV – couch potato – home delivered pizza – foot ball and England is always in the right – and preference for food that looks perfect, though I wonder sometimes if worms and maggots won’t touch it why should I?
Democracy only works well when scrutinised sensibly by the public, the continuing 284 Saturday bus service initially started by Southborough Town Council is testament to that. Whereas the 274 bus that almost runs between Southborough and Pembury Hospital and only at irregular intervals came about due to a planning condition applied indifferently. The now withdrawn proposal of a bus route through the Oak Road Green, Sherwood seemed vindictive, though with public scrutiny the final outcome, the construction of the doorstep green playground is good.
The choice we have locally is voting at the polling station or by post is good, I don’t know of any other system tried locally. I guess the writer was trying to pre-empt postal vote only happening locally in future. In the June election the count started late in the evening and was a long process. I think different counters to the people who had been working in the polling station during the day should be employed to minimise the possibility of knowing which way a specific elector voted, and to reduce the number of hours worked. After the important first stage validation which checks that the number of ballot papers in the box coincided with the number of ballot papers issued, I think the ballot boxes should be re-filled, sealed and then counted the next day.
Bus passes and the cost of poor Vehicle efficiency - KM Extra 08-07-04
A small point to add to Maurice Knights’ letter on bus passes, which is that the free bus pass for use by people over 59 years of age provides half price travel after 9 am weekdays but also at all times at the weekends and bank holidays. Some other councils give greater discount, and there are also free passes and companion passes for disabled people or there companions. I note the comment in another letter from Sevenoaks FoE that car manufactures should make cars more efficient. A vehicle’s energy required follows a cubic law as the speed increases, this translates taking in to account distance travelled becomes an inverse square law of Miles per Gallon (KM/L) at a given speed. Therefore a car that does 50MPG at 70 MPH, you would expect would do 100MPG at 50MPH, and 200MPG at 35MPH. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case. The problem is that the internal combustion engine is only any good near to full power output, and at proper running temperature. Another point to consider is that all motor costs have remained fairly constant in real terms over the period 1974 to 2003, whereas the cost of bus and trains travel has increased so it might seem that there is no pressing need to save fuel, but for the fact that 5 million people suffer respiratory illness in the UK due to vehicle emissions. So even if you don’t qualify for a bus pass like me, do consider using public transport. If you qualify for a free bus pass then can also mitigate the cost as well. Or literally vote with your feet and walk when it is practical.
Note for the Editor: The cost of motoring v Bus and Train travel see Hansard reproduced below:-
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what has been the change in costs of travelling by (a) car, (b) train and (c) bus in each year since 1974, taking 1974 as a base figure of 100, and discounting inflation. 
Mr. McNulty: The following table shows the information requested on real changes in the cost of transport as indices based on 1974=100. The information is available in Transport Statistics Great Britain, although the current edition does not include 2003 data and is based to 1992=100.
17 Mar 2004 : Column 289W
(5) “All motoring” includes the cost of purchase, maintenance, fuel, tax and insurance
Retail Price Index, Office for National Statistics
All Kent Rail Rover poorly promoted - Courier 11-07-04 (similar letter sent to KM Extra)
A few weeks ago “Today” published an article on Medway Council with South Eastern Trains three (consecutive) day rail Rover for all over Kent for £24 (accompanied children £1). For some reason which SET won’t explain too me why High Brooms Kent, Tunbridge Wells Kent and some other Kent (SET) stations seem to be excluded from the Rover. Your ticket from a minor SET Kent station, to a mainline SET station to purchase the rover is not refundable. Having tried to sort this out with SET unsuccessfully, I have enough information to expect some enjoyable outings, which is enhanced by some 2 for one offers. For more information see: http://www.maritimeheritagetrail.co.uk/ The offer is available until the end of August, not forgetting to check last minute engineering.
Bus Passes and bus information – not printed. - Courier 11-07-04
A small point to add to Maurice Knights’ letter on bus passes, is that the free bus pass for use by people of 60 and over provides half price travel after 9 am weekdays, and also at all times at the weekends and bank holidays. Alternatively for disabled people there are free passes or companion passes for the disabled person, who can only travel accompanied. If you you want to travel before 9AM on weekdays there is a charge for the pass your chose.
It would be beneficial if council’s would see that not only bus pass information but also managed public transport timetables information, once again at least one bus timetable in Tunbridge Wells seems lacking or has inaccurate information on the 29 bus goes to Brighton every half hour Monday to Saturday. I got a timetable from a stagecoach driver and confirmed this. Rail stations could be agencies for all public transport, with information on county bus passes.
So even if you don’t qualify for a bus pass like me, do consider using public transport. If you qualify for a bus pass then council’s and government will pick up half the fare for you.
Follow up to poorly promoted Rail Rover – not printed. - Courier 19-07-04
Thank you for printing my letter last week, which followed up an article in the Courier’s “Today” magazine. I have purchased and used the three (consecutive) day Rail Rover for all over Kent for £24 (accompanied children £1), and very much enjoyed the outings, and two for one offers. The frequency bus service between Chatham Station and the historic dockyard was very handy.
It is now quite easy for someone to turn up at Tonbridge Station and buy a Rail Rover. But it took a number of people a number enquiries to find out that although Tunbridge Wells Station know all about the ticket and have those tickets, they don’t have the bar codes to issue the tickets, Tonbridge Station have the bar codes and the tickets, but did not know anything about the promotion, until Tunbridge Wells staff told them. The ambiguity between Medway Council’s understanding that they were promoting an all Kent Rail Rover, and South Eastern Trains’ published leaflet that omits some Kent Stations, was never explained to me by SET. I also don’t see why the tickets are not available from any staffed station, such as was the case with the Connex Loyalty card and, the Hastings line 150 year anniversary ticket previously.
More information is available: http://www.maritimeheritagetrail.co.uk/ The Rover is available until the end of August, don’t forget to check last minute engineering. The rail ticket to a mainline SET station which sells the rover is not refundable.
Preparing for (or to have) Emergencies - Courier (edited) & KM Extra (minor edit) 15-08-04
I recently received my copy of “Preparing for Emergencies”. The website http://www.preparingforemergencies.co.uk/ recommends you dial 999, but I think it also sensible to insist on being given a reference number if it is the police service you are speaking to. This publication being the sequel to “Protect and Survive” and it’s counter “Protest and Survive” of 20 years ago preparing for or avoiding war. Which was the sequel to the 4 minute warning of the 60′s and the TV documentary filmed in Tonbridge “The War Game”.
In Tunbridge Wells a Library Foyer display was banded within a day or two day of opening and Tunbridge Wells Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament collected 5,000 signatures in the following week to have it’s display reinstated, but instead a manager of the local library was sacked, and TW CND marched through the town with a coffin representing the death of free speech.
Civil defence planning, a course tutored by a retired police man was run in Tunbridge Wells. Although emergency planning was said at that time to be intended for planning for any emergency, and knowing who had a tractor locally would be useful, the nuclear war and shooting the looters after was the important lesson it turned out. Although it was said that they/we would deal with any emergency at that time, and not wait until after the training was finished, but the lie became plain when we visited the basement of Springfield in Maidstone shortly after the very deep snow in North West Kent that winter. The Civil defence old men had been playing boy scouts in their emergency basement room – Playing Nuclear War emergency and shoot the looters exercise whilst the snow accumulated outside too a record depth (1986?).
I don’t think the retired policeman doing the training liked the part of the training preparing for after a nuclear war exercise he was supposed to teach us, and presented with one of the other exercises instead or got distracted. One of those distractions was by how, when he as a young policeman with bicycle, he had had his helmet knocked off at pub closing time whilst on his own in a village. Though he was out numbered an old lady came out of a house and told the drinkers to give him his helmet back and go home, which they did. I must say I have seen former infant school dinner lady Val Catt, and later to be Councillor, do the same sort of thing with drinkers brawling on Christmas eve in the town. Getting back to the civil defence training – Eventually the trainer’s senior came and sat in and made sure the shooting the looters lecture took place, not a very nice or practical lesson. That was followed by the visit of police and emergency central control in Maidstone where anything could be managed it seemed, followed by the visit of Springfield I described above where we saw lots obsolete phone equipment, and white boards with the same nasty lecture notes on it from the after nuclear war exercise that they had been doing in the past months.
Given that at the time US was planning a limited (tactical) Nuclear War in Europe, I think in retrospect there was sense in government ignoring the snow and preparing for the war, but it was nonsense, and I am still doubtful about calling the survivors looters and shooting them makes any sense either. So my question is what are we being prepared for this time around?
Note for the letters editor – (not for publication)
Tunbridge Wells CND booked the Library foyer for a one month display which came to the top of the waiting list two years later. Two years latter happened to coincided with the governments civil defence exercise “Operation Hard Rock” and CND’s counter to it “Operation Hard Luck”. The library at about that time other displays had included Milk Marketing Board, Battle of Britten, English Apples, but probably one of the better presented was the CND display which had been largely created by local artist Paula Williams from Wadhurst. The month was cut short after a day or two, but not really because it was tatty, but more likely because Sir Patrick Mayhew our then MP was civil defence minister, and would be making a speech to Tory Conference at the time. A Library Foyer display was inevitably going to coincide with something there was a lot of pro/anti Nuclear War activity at the time.
The full civil defence guidance, which was a reproduction of something from the 60′s. Amongst the many practical things were the plans for building a men’s urinal. This document was countered a Youth Tunbridge Wells CND publication.
Next Prospective Parliamentary Candidate - Courier 22-08-04 – Not printed.
I wish Alan Bullion or who ever is the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Tunbridge Wells luck. Peoples voting pattern reflects all sorts of reasoning, next time people could try voting Labour for change perhaps? Local Conservative Parliamentary Candidate’s may as well be the King of Siam (Thailand) and I am but one hair of his head, as far as usual outcome is concerned, but things can change. In 1956 the Labour Candidate Len Fagg got within 1,602 votes of winning, although the Labour vote dropped off from 1970 it has been steadily rise again since 1992. I recommend that you vote for who I really want, whatever any Left publication Alan might have read advises.
When voting for local council’s though there are areas like Southborough, where if you want some scrutiny of local government, voting Labour is a good idea. When Lib-Dems ran Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, they missed some opportunities, like a environmental code of conduct for local developers**. Even so the brief change of controlling party was good and many good things came out of the change. The audit report is another opportunity for improvement of our week borough council. Next year there is a chance that at least one local Kent County Councillor be Labour. Needless to say there is also a place for local press to scrutinise local government more than they do so now.
When the parliamentary election comes, despite the war, I do wish for a Labour Government not just because Labour have there act together more, but because Labour MPs have an excellent record in scrutinise there own government.
** Note not for publication
In 1996 High Weald Housing Association built 166 houses at Barnetts Wood. Having done nothing for more than six months they made a dreadful mistake resulted in the bulldozing of many nesting birds, chicks and eggs. The fine for doing this could have been considerable, but unfortunately European directives were not applied in the UK although they always were law. Although I was unable to persuade the developers to defer building during the nesting season soon, or persuade the RSPB prosecute, after the house were built HWHA offered to sponsor an environmental code of conduct for local developers. The condition was that voluntary code applied to all local developers, and TWBC would need to pull it together and ensure that information on record from organisations like Kent Trust for Nature was passed on. Unfortunately Councillor David Mills was unwilling to do that when he was the leader of the one time Lib-Dem Borough Council.
Troops should assist in Asia KM Extra 21-01-05
With photo of 11 year old Mya Howard holding a poster at the Rally in T/W on 18 December.
It is unfortunate that Government should have been dragged into a war and occupation of Iraq. To there credit a large number of MP’s voted against that war unambiguously, and some troops refused to obey orders to fight in an unlawful war. Troops should be sent to help, if needed with the Asian disaster or brought home now.
There are various points of view on War and what we should do now. I believe, that when military forces of occupation pull out the very long process of healing of Iraq can start. The problem is that any form of outside military force in Iraq is largely perceived (with good reasons), to be doing wrong however well intentioned. The outcome, I am sure will include Iraqi oil being traded in US dollars, and will continue to be painfully for the Iraqi’s for many years whatever is done. I don’t see any reason to believe that the leaked UN report, prior to the war, predicting that ultimately 1.26 million deaths due to war and disease that follows is an underestimate.
If readers are interested Tunbridge Wells Peace Group <email@example.com> will be meeting next at the Toc-H hall off the High Street, Tunbridge Wells on 7 and 21 January at 7.00pm. Contact no. 07791 851 697.
Uniting the two parts of St. Matts Schools, printed KMExtra 18-03-05,
Recently taxi operation have restarted between the two parts of St. Matthews School, and that is subject of a planning application. The school suffers from unauthorised parking on it’s own land and during the past decade has taken steps to minimise the effect. Although no child has been seriously hurt so far, safety is a concern.
When a taxi firm operated between the two parts of the School, that causes considerable annoyance to the school and neighbours. The annoyance was greatly reduced following a change of use subsequently. It is therefore concerning that an application to change back to taxi firm operation recently came about.
The transport depot business prior to 1991 operate very quietly, the operator of that firm retired. Kent County Council nearly bought out the transport depot at that time, and the local press ran a story about this happening. The deal unfortunately fell through and Starline then bought the site.
The proprietor of Starline, was helpful in dealing with problems that arose a decade ago, but the problems were not resolved. The then clerk to Southborough Town Council Graham Penticost was keen to help local councillors resolve the problem. Meetings with KCC resulted at one stage with the proprietor of Starline finding an alternative site to relocate to.
It would be handy if the two parts of the school were united.
Clarification of the meaning of an advertisement, printed KMExtra 04-03-06
Copy to Marks & Spencer.
Thank you for printing my letter in KM Extra 4 March copy below. Having looked at the advert in wimpy again I see that the comparison is between a Marks & Spencer’s tuna sandwich, and a Wimpy Lean Berger. I have also visited M&S on the 5 March and spoken to the food manager Garry.
Published as a letter with minor changes 04-03-06 To KM Extra News Paper, Advertising Agency, Wimpy
I have been wondering what the meaning of the advertisement in the window of Wimpy in Tunbridge Wells (Junction of Grosvenor and Upper Grosvenor). The poster advert shows a Wimpy Burger with a number of grams of fat (oil) and a Tuna Sandwich with a higher number grams of fat (oil). The poster suggests there is no choice, but given that the poster does not mention the good Omega 3 oils in the tuna fish, or whether the burger contains saturated fat, the advert does not say?
I would appreciate it if Wimpy would clarification the meaning of the advertisement publicly. I am not a health professional, but I have been advised by my doctor to watch the type of oils and fats I consume.
Air Quality on the A26, Sent to the Courier 06-03-05 a much edited version was published 18-03-05
As readers will be aware the A26 Southborough to Tunbridge Wells has been declared an Air Quality Management Area, and air quality is to be monitored to EU/UK standards. The air quality is concerning and as I suffer from so called hay fever severally in the summer when near vehicle fumes, I am keen for people and local authorities to get on and do something about it. The number of vehicle a day on the A26 through Southborough is about 25,0000 a day and has been the same for three decades, so presumably the problem has existed for the same time. The air has been monitored for a decade, but not to EU or WHO standard methods, so it can not be said that there has been a problem previously, or whether vehicles have become more polluting recently?
Part of the solution is to:-
* Create a pinch point north of Southborough (could be a traffic light), to restrict traffic coming into Southborough so that vehicles coming in wait until they can move through built up areas freely. Cars entering Southborough having travel some distance would produces more NO2, the pollutant particularly problematic, and ozone, and that the fewer vehicles taking shorter time to complete their journey the less vehicle fumes will be emitted.
* Encourage walking buses to school, and walking. This solution would mitigate short vehicle journeys which produce high levels of carcinogenic pollutants such as unburnt hydrocarbons.
* Make public transport (buses and trains) that run parallel between Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells cheaper, by subsidy, more frequent, and reliable.
* Longer term; build a freight sidings at Good Station Road, and Longfield Road to transfer local deliveries to road. The Shell heating oil depot at North farm Road could start using there freight siding again.
* Change the local plan to re-designate the industrial estate on the High Brooms side of the rail line for residential use. Therefore reduce the need for some heavy vehicle movements to occur through A26, and High Brooms.
Traffic on the A26 is capacity limited, for each car that could be persuaded not to travel on that road another would replace it. Therefore building roads won’t solve any problems. Although most of the traffic is coming into Tunbridge Wells not going through, the restoration the rail link T/W to Brighton would be helpful and would also provide an alternative route to London via Eridge.
The widening and speeding up of traffic on the A21 at Castle Hill will not help as this route into Tunbridge Wells is congested. In any case it is selfish to attempt impose similar problems on Sherwood, High Brooms, and Pembury Road. In any case the section of A21 at Castle Hill is noted in the Access to Hastings multi-modal study for its low fatality rate, and safety on that section of road is the primary concern of the public. An outer orbital motorway route connecting the A21 to the A26 South of Tunbridge Wells is unlikely to be built quickly or at all.
Many people are talk about building a bypass across Southborough Common to Langton, this would spoil a lovely local amenity. Instead I would like to see temporary fences and cattle grazing Southborough Common. I acknowledge that the house building that would come with such a scheme is needed.
Other measures widely discussed are to remove the traffic lights at Yew Tree Road, but I think the lights are beneficial compared to the problem that existed prior to there installation 25 years ago, even if when switched off things seem better briefly. The pelican crossing could be moved to in front of the Victoria Hall, and buttons for pedestrians added to the traffic lights at Yew Tree, and Speldhurst Road Junctions. Possibly loading lay-bys in front of the shops in the same section might also help, but these measures will do nothing for Southborough without a pinch point north of Southborough.
NOTE not for publication:- You may use this letter as First Person article.
Reference: My Access to Hastings archive: Access to Hastings
The real number of deaths due to roads v MRSA from Kent on Sunday Sent 20-04-05, printed 01-05-05
Recently The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that air pollution, due to all forms of pollution shortens lives in Europe by up to ten months and costs billions of Euros every year. So the advertisement printed in KOS last Sunday on 5,000 deaths due to hospital MRSA, and the conservative campaign comparing deaths due to road transportation seems very misleading. In January 1998 New Scientist reported that up to 24,000 people die annually due to vehicle emissions according to the government statistics (office of national statistics), this is considerably more than have been dyeing of hospital MRSA. This figure is in addition to fatalities on the road, and 5 million children suffer respiratory illness due to road pollution.
When USA introduced the 55 MPH speed limit, fatalities on the road halved. If engine size were reduced to match, then fuel efficiency and air quality would be improved, and therefore you would expect a substantial reduction in need for hospital care, and thereby expect the cases of MRSA to be reduced substantialy as well.
Would you trust Michael Howard. Sent to Courier and Radio 4′s PM 20-04-05, not printed.
Having been talking to people recently on the General Election, my obvious retort could have been would you trust Michael Howard? I suggest that no one was deceived by any dossier on the issue of going to war on Iraq. Surely the relevant question now is if the president of USA demands our involvement in war on Iran in June or some time, do we say no this time. In the end it will be down to MP’s to vote unequivocally no to such a war if they mean no, and Labour MP’s have proven very good at constructively criticising government.
A26 Southborough to Tunbridge Wells has been declared an Air Quality Management Area,
Sent to KM Extra 08 & 16-05-06
I gave an interview to KM FM on 10-05-06, then a well edited version of the letter was printed subsequently in KM Extra 20-05-06.
The declaration of the A26 Southborough to Tunbridge Wells as an Air Quality Management Area, and air quality is to be monitored to EU/UK standards, is overdue. The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned recently that air pollution shortens lives in Europe by up to ten months and costs billions of Euros every year. There have been a number of such warnings, for example in 1998 the office of national statistics reported that up to 24,000 people die annually due to vehicle emissions. The number of vehicle a day on the A26 through Southborough is about 25,0000 a day and has been the same for three decades, so presumably the problem has existed for the same time. I am keen for people and local authorities to get on and do something constructive about it.
Part of the solution could be:-
* Create a pinch point north of Southborough to restrict traffic coming into Southborough so that vehicles wait until they can move through built up areas freely.
* Encourage walking buses to school, and walking.
* Make public transport (buses and trains) that run parallel between Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells cheaper, and more frequent, and reliable.
* Build freight sidings at Good Station Road, and Longfield Road to transfer local deliveries to road. The Shell heating oil depot at North farm Road could start using their freight siding again. The restoration the rail link T/W to Brighton may be helpful and would also provide an alternative route to London via Eridge.
* Change the local plan to re-designate the industrial estate on the High Brooms side of the rail line for residential use. Therefore reduce the need for some heavy vehicle movements to occur through A26, and High Brooms.
Traffic on the A26 is capacity limited, for each car that could be persuaded not to travel on that road another would replace it, so perhaps we should suggest radical things?
Note not for publication
1) I have reworded this letter slightly as was suggested to me.
2) Thanks for passing the original letter to KM-FM who broadcast some of my comments last Wednesday.
The lesson don’t build, or plan roads it only encourages them. Sent 08-06-05
Published in the Courier virtually unedited 13-05-03
Jan Petrie is correct in her understanding of traffic management. In about 1990 Cecil Parkinson claimed truthfully the 1980′s the Tories, had the biggest road building programme ever. But by the mid 1990′s the government started to kick many road schemes into the long grass, such as the failed Weald and Downland DBFO Scheme (Tonbridge to Hastings, and then to Eastbourne). Government switched away from using their computer model COBA (Cost Benefit Analyst) which builds roads for millionaires to travel faster on, because massive road building leads to even greater expectation, congestion, and therefore dissatisfaction.
In the mid 1990′s Parliament set up a committee HETRA to look in to road building and all transportation. This committee’s interim report said in essence that road building did not necessarily reduce congestion it had to be studied. Ultimately guidance was published on Multi-modal Studies, and the first study The Access to Hastings Multi-modal Study was commissioned in 1999. The study which looked at transport within a triangular area of Sevenoaks M25 along the A21, the coast, and Eastbourne, Unfortunately the Study consultants were unable to persuade the steering group to include the A26 rail corridor which formed the other side of the triangular area of the study, although consultation was carried out in St. Johns and Southborough.
The committee took a long time to report, and the guidance that followed was also late, a land mark lesson was being learnt, predict and provide has been replaced by traffic management. My own summary of the lesson is don’t build, or plan roads it only encourages them (meaning people put off changing the transportation need, by relocating for example, in anticipation of road building thereby exasperating congestion).
Jan Petrie’s assertion that more traffic will fill any capacity increase created unless other measures are taken is corroborated by a prediction made by the Department of Transport. The Department of Transport said at the public inquiry into the 6 lane A21 at Castle Hill in 1993 that traffic would increase from 25,000 to 40,000 vehicles a day by 1996 on the A26 if their road were not built, having said previously that Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells Borough Councils have a plan to create a pinch point just north of Southborough. I don’t think they were being entirely honest, traffic on the A26 is at capacity it can not increase, But for each car that could be persuaded not to travel on that road another would replace it, so perhaps we should do more than tinker with the problem of the A26 air quality?
Use of the old Ridgewaye School Gym by Ridgewaye Football Club, Sent to Courier & KMExtra ~06-12-05
I supported the license application for the sex shop in Southborough, because the application shows a responsible attitude to the subject. I also think sex as with most issues should be dealt with openly and not made a mistery, or necessarily wrong. The teenagers probably are more interested in other teenagers, and as the news quiz quoted the pensioners have there walking sticks anyway. In the main people quietly think what is planned is at least better than a vacant shop, and on the basis that any publicity is good then keep the discussion going will be good for business in Southborough. The Town Council could have support this business more fully by wrapping it up in the Town Centre Development, and forgotten about it for a while.
Many people don’t like seeing the area of derelict land remain that way in Southborough. At Southborough Town Council last week consideration of the football pavilion was discussed, it would be good if the old Ridgewaye School gym, be used for sport by Ridgewaye Football Club. It is up to the owner’s Kent County Council to set the term it cares to offer. Readers might recall that the Royal Victoria Project in Tunbridge Wells was initiated by Kent County Council in the 1960′s and then was finally built in the 1990′s. Town Council members commented on the number of plans have come for the Town Centre that would have been built and finished years ago. I was disappointed six years ago that the planning application for a little Sainsbury that could be extended was not supported by the council or the public who attended the meeting.
Recent crashes on A21 (Pembury bypass), edited version published in the Courier 02-02-07
I note your reports of recent car crashes with sadness. It is 30 years since I was involved in a multiple car crash with fatalities on the A21 Tonbridge by-pass south bound carriageway. This multiple car crash just before the A26 turn off made front page of the Courier and ultimately resulted in the central barrier being placed on that section of the dual carriage way. It makes me uncomfortable when I am a passenger in a car particularly with people driving too fast or over the speed limit, ignoring 3 second gap, and complain about speed cameras. I also don’t like seeing people ignore the spirit of the Highway Code by backing their cars out on to roads, or allow themselves to be distracted.
Since that car crash it has been recognised (as I have written before) that predict and provide policy for road building does not work whereas traffic management and study is better. It was disappoint to read of Councillor Ransleys proposal to clear the highways of parked cars and delivery vehicles so that more moving vehicles can fill the road and probably would actually result in stationary in cues of more drivers getting annoyed with highway builders and councillors not doing anything about the problem.
Like everything else you can’t just expect a technically fix to come along or expand capacity you have to study and manage problems in order to do less harm or provide a benefit. Similarly a wind turbine may not be viable in the south east because of the low wind in this area. You can use wind and solar power most of the time to dry your clothes with some additional disinfection due to UV in the sunlight bleaching. This winter has been exceptionally few drying days and much more wind. My environmental credentials are poor though due to the air miles I will accumulate going on holiday to Guatemala next month. The point once again like a car journey to recycling banks – does it leave or mitigate my dirty environmental footprint on the world?
Tax Avoidance - Printer in Courier, Sent & printed to Courier 19/4/2009
The problem, of tax avoidance and generous tax allowances is endemic and is the system. It seems to be unfair to pick on MP’s expenses alone they are part of that system. The people who are least blame worthy are surely those on PAYE or the unemployed who can’t even get travelling expenses for going to a job interview.
I started doing contract working, away from home, a year ago, as an electronics engineer. The pay rates are very good and the working atmosphere is relaxed, very sociable, and very productive in the automotive industry were I am currently working. I am told this is generally the case with short-term contract working.
Contract working is encouraged by government with low taxes that self-employed small business pay due to tax allowances. There are of cause extra expenses B+B, eating out, and travelling, these in my case added up to more than pay on the minimum wage would allow. Although you sort of gain employment rights as if you were employed, they are not strong you can you can be working one week and fired the next presumably that’s why BMW employ people on contract because redundancy was cheaper for them. But government also encourage bigger cars by allowing larger tax allowances for bigger engines cars. These aspects, don’t meet sustainability criteria, and should not be encouraged.
Perhaps things would be more equitable if we were all paid a flat or progressive income tax rate but with no allowances, because in that way the very wealthy would at least pay some tax. Perhaps we should look at ourselves, I believe that setting an example is the most persuasive way of bringing about change. Pulling apart a MP or minister’s expenses, which you will always find something, but this is rarely productive.
Cafe BLISS opens, Courier & Southborough Town Council News Letter (sent 29/11/2009)
I am very pleased to see café Bliss open in Southborough on Monday 23rd November lunch time. It is centrally located opposite the Library for the Southborough and High Brooms, Elaine Lawrence (key person) told me. Cakes and bread etc. are locally sourced, and each part of the smart shop has its own distinct theme. As a former East Ward Town Councillor I invite electors to visit and join in with this project.
Michael Foot and two good General Election Candidates, printed in the Courier 3/2010 (sent 7/3/2010)
I heard Michael Foot speak against nuclear weapons to a meeting of a few thousand 30 years ago at the Brighton Dome. He was the best speaker I have ever heard. Listening to some of archived speeches of Michael in parliament recently, his language was plain, simple and powerful. Significantly when Michael Foot spoke in parliament MPs sat quietly listening until the end, then the raw of laughter went up. Many of those things in Labour’s 1983 election manifesto that Michael Foot stood on have broader support now.
There is a romantic view that old style Labour or old style Conservative stood for something, many still do across all party’s. Tunbridge Wells Labour Party Prospective candidate Garry Heather is probably one of the hardest working the local party has had, visiting groups, union branches and asking them for support, canvassing etc. over the past two years. I have also found our Conservative MP Gregg Clark to be the best we have had. To have at least two candidates that electors want to support and have to chose between, is a very good thing. Each party’s attitude and priorities differentiates more than policy.
Engineering, and making things has never been as valued as making money work, the casino banking that results in jobs being exporting and free loading off of the rest of the world. As a job seeking Electronics Engineer, I would like to see this change, more slack put back in the system so that all who need, are supported and for companies to have the margin again to employ youngsters who need experience. For people to talk and debate with each other and to once again to value well made to last things, that have not been designed to ware-out or become unfashionable.
Following the reporting that a Southborough Town Councillor would be resigning some time back; Can you write letters of resignation from Jail? Is there going to be a by-election in High Brooms, coinciding with the May elections? Or is Southborough Town Council waiting till June? That is do they know something about the General Election date that know one else knows?
Parlimentry Candidates at Baptist Church Tunbridge Wells - Sent to Courier 25/4/2010
I attended the public meeting where five candidates for the parliamentary elections answered questions at the Baptist Church, Tunbridge Wells on Thursday last week. One question that I found interest was “Which issue would the you vote against a three line whip on?” The answers were theoretical or the party is right on everything, but Gary Heather for Labour said he would have voted against war. This answer received much applause, I am pleased to say having seen so much flag waving only last year in Tunbridge Wells for war.
Fewer people come to public meetings and talk about the things they need, consequently what people say is filtered and shaped by the media, But the internet and social networking is changing that. Empowerment of ordinary people, and the understanding of responsibility is a good objective. There are other signs that things are changing for example there was a good turns out at public meetings in Rusthall and Ramslye estate recently.
I hope things continue to change and people once again value well made things, made to last and kept consequently. Value quality of service provided rather than just profit made. Ethical relationships rather than legal agreements with each other. Less free loading off the third world who make or grow most of the things we use and find themselves in debt for doing that. The vast size of the military/nuclear industry, and wars that result consequently.
Consensus not conflict, Courier Letters 25/6/2010 (As sent 20/7/2010)
More than a decade ago the Castle Hill section of A21 was the most studied road scheme in the South East. The consequence of its approval would have been further spreading of retail between the Pantiles and North Farm and along with relocating the Town Hall out of the centre would make Tunbridge Well in-distinctive. There are formerly beautiful towns all over the country spoilt having been sliced up by roads. Little fragments of lanes and streets divided in Ringwood, Hampshire and Gillingham, Dorset for example. Locally politically active people and councils have resisted this, in the past, but to expect that protective way in future is unlikely from a council out of the way in Hawkenbury supported by an indifferent public. The unsightly 80′s planning at North Farm, derelict shops in Ramslye due to impossible lease conditions, and promised community things in High Brooms that never occurred will it change?
By comparison in Coventry were I have worked and found wonderful old medieval buildings some renovated by the council sadly many boarded up and all surrounded by ugly modern buildings. This is clearly popular and how people wanted it. New Labour learnt early about the need to be populist U-turning on ethical foreign policy and green transport, but I think they left office on more traditional Labour agenda leaving people wanting more, but from a different coalition of parties.
People empowerment and involvement is the way things were going, this is good. As ordinary people we need to encourage a coalition and consensus rather than conflict but I am sceptical.
A Party Working together – printed Tunbridge Wells on Saturday 14/08/2010
Your article on the Labour leadership debate (Tunbridge Wells On Sunday 8/8/2010). Having attended one of the hustings in London recently I have considered that the party is together and the parliamentary party are constructively criticising government. There is not a strong cases for the future leadership to be decided yet because all candidates and non-candidate are working well together speaking to there strengths as necessary. Similarly the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has a number of vice chairs who speak from different view points that works.
By comparison it has not been until the past year that Conservative parliamentary party have somewhat got it together and opposed things that should be opposed and supported things that they should supported. On war, Trident and everything else they had been getting it the wrong way around, I should say that the Lib-Dems also sat on the fence. I hope that the country is governed considerately without more wars, sadly war and active service attracts military recruiting and flag waving jingoism. There are good people across all parties and there is a positive agenda passed on by Labour for higher standards in those with power and influence. By comparison John Major left to watch the cricket whilst his colleague’s that he called the bastards carried on stabbing each other in the back. His legacy Back to Basics was a joke. We could do without there more ideology based policy, but valuing each other, quality of service provided, rather than money, litigation and what works, is the best that can be done. I think the Conservative party and public expectation has changed
I was unemployed for a year, there were vacancies in Electronics that remained unfilled then suddenly companies started seriously recruiting a month after the change of government. It seemed as they were holding off driving down pay rates. Those who control money, are not governments, can chose when or if recession will occurs to some extent. Voting alone or voting for conservative irrespective of the quality of a particular candidate and his particular party in Southborough is not democracy. The Alternative Vote seems fairer but politically involvement is better; Please join; http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TunbridgeWellsLabour/ if you are broadly sympathetic to our objective.
Network Card and poorer customer service - Courier 17/12/2010
Shortened version printed based on the lost network card published.
A letter in last weeks Courier made a point about poor passenger care from rail company’s in connection with a claim. Recently by comparison I had cause to complain about a Kraft Foods product to Kraft foods and the Co-Op who replaced and then wrote me a nice letter within five days and craft foods rote within a month. That was adequate but as with the letter in the Courier last week I have received unusually, compared to past experience, poor response to complaints on a rail issue.
I recently lost my Network Card and incurred additional expense of the rail ticket having only discovering the loss at the station. With the same network rail card I have also previously, February 2010, applied for my card be suspended until I need it again. This was because I was unemployed at the time and the Job centre gave me a Newdeal Rail card which they renewed and that expired in August 2010. The conditions on the ticket I signed have changed and I was referred to a website.
Virgin Rail, but not Virgin Media are poor, BT over poor land line who pass you to India for complaints and UK for new business.
I am now employed, the New Deal Card case particularly rail operators are in pocket as a consequence of my lack of prior knowledge of that card. I have never been a fare dodging employed or unemployed person. I make this point because during my year unemployed I found some cases where the attitude towards me was less fair than on other occasions, the Newdeal card was one of those.
Neither anyone whether presenting a Job centre a travel warrant at a rail station or credit worthy citizen’s credit card deserves this poor service from any organisation. The problem is the companies policy not the employee who have to carry out that policy.
Summoning to Prayers - Sent to The Courier 04/03/2012
The correspondence on members of government being summoned to meetings that include prayers has covered a range of views including the one that Christians are the best people - acting on that has surely caused war? Harming animals or each other may be forgiven but Genesis 1 verse 29 might be worth thinking about. So many things may start out well meaning for example.
Last year I spoke to an old guy in a dentist waiting room who had done his national service in 1948. My dad had done his national service in 1946 and he had an easy time mum and I commented. The chap we spoke to said that he had been sent to a factory in Wales that built Wellington Bombers. They were not needed any more so when they were built they were taken out dismantled and burnt. He asked why? The answer given was it was a war ministry contract. That was surely the start of Military Industrial complex perhaps well meant in giving people work originally but now parasitic part of the money creation scam that have displaced the real work that make the things we eat, use and services we need.
There is a British culture of calling real direct work, by hand; engineering, science, art, services as low status compared to money creation. This is now being recognised as a mistake of the 1980's but it started in a smaller way before the Victorian era. The parcels of toxic debt seem to be landing, not back on USA or British Bankers who caused it all but on, where it always lands, people who do or would work.
The sequel to the story of the 1948 Wellington Bomber work creation scheme was that a short cut was found and the dismantling part of the work was dispensed with the bombers were burnt without being dismantling them first. Then Wellington bomber out of service with ammo and fuel on board were also burnt causing a big fire requiring the fire brigade be called out.
Growth, job and money creation schemes have not redistributed anything equitably but they were used as a way of avoiding the very difficult task of managing. They have created the rat race warned of years ago. If you want fairness and equitably you need to say that and manage things to bring that about. We now need more than a fire brigade to put out the fire of the Growth Con.
Whether you pray or not direction needs to change.
Price Disguising - Measured Response published Courier 09/03/2012 (Sent 26/02/2012)
I bought some nice vegetarian sausages in the Tunbridge Wells Sausage Shop. I said that I did not want anything with milk or cheese, I have a food sensitivity to those, and I asked the price. The price was given in pounds, well I am old but not that old and I did pay attention to learning those sill old imperial units and chants you needed to remind yourself how many of one imperial was in another imperial unit, at school. In fact schools stopped teaching it in about 1969 and I held off learning till about then. I explained this but I still did not get a kilo price so I showed a handful and was told that would be a pound and cost £4.25 or something.
To be honest I do know what a handful would weigh. I can convert but I am pleased science and engineering uses the SI system it would be very difficult without. How USA manages I don't know though they do muddle through well quite well. Was this a way of distinguishing the price which was high but I knew that before I went into the shop? Was it done for American Tourists? Clearly the woman serving knows how convert to imperial she should can keep that skill to herself unless it is asked for though.
So many shops sell things in three for the price of two so you look up the price and multiply by two then divide by three to get the comparative price. Or the quantity is six apples for, compared to a per kilo, compared to a pound price elsewhere. These are examples where people need to make a fuss and that is why I write.
British Engineering and SI units. Sent to Courier 25/03/2012 - not printed.
Various responses to my letter. Britain started going metric in the 19th Century it was a shame that the Metrification Board was closed down in 1981 just before it would have finished the job, ever if that would have pleased Napoleon! The point in another letter about British pragmatism. In engineering is the thing that makes British engineering second to none. The modern electronic computer, Universal Turing Engine, after it's British inventor Alan Turing key to WWII code breaking that shortened or won that war according to Churchill. In my view Babbage, Lovelace and a century later Turing completed the electronic store programmable computer was the Britain's most important invention of the 20th century.
So much was dismantled in the 1980's replaced by the war fighting Industries, financial services, which don't directly make the food to put on the table or make the tables. Where the money is, is in making others work for some of us. This came about entirely by British public laziness, support or indifference not by following any European examples.
Residents Parking scheme - printed - Courier 27/03/2012
The reason I opposed, like most people of High Brooms, the residents parking schemes in the past is that, as another former councillor, Val Catt said, it is a way of making people pay for something we have for free at the moment. This current proposal is divisive, give one road parking permits, pushes parking in to neighbouring roads, so the scheme is widened until from the Robin Hood to Powderer Mill Lane is dragged reluctantly into paying £60 or something for what we have now but at no extra cost.
Being Summarily sacked - Any Answers (Any Questions) Radio 4, 26/05/2012
It was an interesting experience speaking to Jonathan Dimbleby. Jonathan guided me to a very small part of what had to say then it was all over. That was being sacked, what the reason was, none given, what I thought of employment laws being changed, my view law is already weak. Finally although I feel it unlikely, and have had advice, I would receive that pay but I found a good job in Dover subsequently.
Quote from BBC website on the point; "Conservative donor Adrian Beecroft has accused Vince Cable of being a socialist for defending workers' rights. Is this a compliment or an insult?"
The Beechcroft report had proposes that employment rights be taken away so that it is easier for employers to sack people.
The question on reducing employment rights so that bad companies who chose to can summarily fire people. My last contract job which was through an agent XXX XXXX for XXX XXXX near Bath I was phoned at home on Friday and told not to return to work the following Monday. The agent made a point of saying he was happy to find me more work and would pay my last weeks work and a week in lieu of notice. This was September last year and I have not received that pay and I can't see that I can do anything about it.
I now know why electronic component manufacturers and distributors were reluctant to visit XXX XXXXX or give away product samples, which is unusual. My point is week laws allow bad ways of working to flourish and undermine good ways of working. In promoting this government does not work for all people as it supposed to whether those people voted for them or not at all.
National Anthem, Verse 6 - The Kent & Sussex, Courier 22/06/2012
Euro Crisis - Return to past values needed.
Shortened version (without last paragraph but for the last sentence) printed. The letter, sent 5/6/12, is a response to an article in the Courier quoting the national anthem with all its verses, which I quoted from. The Article was on how few people know even the first verse. This coinciding with the Queen's 59/60th anniversary of her crowning.
Like most people I did not know, or had forgotten, the National Anthem, Verse 6; Lord grant that Marshall Wade May by mighty aid Victory bring May he sedition hush Rebellious Scots to crush, and nick their oil, God save the Queen. I think the verse, as amended, is relevant just substitute leadership of the borough council, Afghanistan etc. or any country who has something we want.
Things change - after WWII the era was set by Winston Churchill that "Never has so much has been to so many by so few" The formation of the now European Union to prevent another war, primarily, in Europe - giving ordinary people citizenship for the first time. That era along with much the science and engineering, that rebuilt the country, has passed. Was a mistake.
I suppose the interesting thing I read recently is that the most wealthy in UK could pay off the national debt. The Pasty tax u-turn is a distraction it is the unfairness of the widening inequality is the issue being avoided. People often blame politicians but they do populist things to be elected so the cliché, people get the government they deserve, must be true! In the 70's it was predicted that the country would become post industrial financial services base business economy. It has happened along with the then disliked American suing culture as slack has been squeezed out of everything. Like some of our personal saving, pensions etc, that have turned valueless, could be happening to money. Never mind any Euro crisis, we need to return to making as many things as we use, and value what we do by our hand and our ingenuity something the English have been bad at doing for a very long time.
Television - Reality is a Better Place - Courier 06/07/2012
Published edited and printed up to the first sentence of the last last paragraph inclusive.
Your article on whether a council debate should be postponed for a football match on TV. There are so many good things on TV that I decided and have done without TV at home since 1988 in order not to be tempted to stay in for them. Virtual life verses life dilemma. Intense artificial colours and flavours verses real subtle and varied colours and flavours.
As if democracy, social interaction and empathy been postponed for TV and Face Book? Is the outcome voting, when people do it, for negative reasons because people are angry about the vastly wealthy and their apparently excused of tax liability disparity perhaps but rather pick on an easy but wrong target fellow working people and smaller scale tax dodgers.
ANDREW Lohmann ditched his television for good to improve engagement with 'the real world.
Full story page 25
I shall be interviewed tomorrow 28/07/2012 morning on Radio Kent probably about 9AM. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00w5bkw
Roads Plains and Trains - sent to The Courier 18/11/2012 - Not printed
The items and letters on road building at Castle Hill and more aeroplane activity sure mean we only expect more running around for less pleasure or productivity. The rat race coined many decades ago. It is pleasing to see, though, that the campaign to restore the direct rail line to Brighton is a pleasurable way of get from the centre of Tunbridge Wells to the centre of Brighton and few other places on the way as well as backup rout to London via Eridge from Tunbridge Wells.
Dr John Owen & Spare's follies - sent to The Courier 9/12/2012 - printed 14/12/2012
That was a good article on John Owen, his interesting life which I did not know of, but I recall the wall newspaper in Crescent Road and the remember the sign post to (Cllr) Spare's folly with the up-side-down elephant. The sign directed you towards the Royal Victoria Project (place) was still at Carr's Corner for a number of years after Mr Owen's death.
Whether John Owen was bipolar in the context it was reported is not a factor. On the one hand one council officer spent a few decades working on the project to made redundant when the project was completed. Richard Hill and John Goodfellow dug away on the council financing leading to the discovery that TWBC probably lost between £8M to £11M in this project leading to an apology in full council and offer of resignation by the then leader during the mid 1990's.
On the other hand though if the project had been purely commercially funded property owners would have been paid more and the council could have avoided financial loss but perhaps gained as well as retaining it's council housing stock that it had previously been proud of.
I suppose another of former Cllr Spare's follys was to put the excellent Day in the Wells in the basement of the Corn Exchange rather than as a centre piece. Council activities don't have to make money if they serve a useful purpose there are cases when compulsory purchase is the only way if you want something tidied up that is the only way you can do it. Or stop complaining about the mess of the Cinema for example. But do be careful how you use Bipolar, woman, man, engineer.
Andrew H Lohmann
Jane Bakowski who wrote the article is a particularly good and likeable reporter.
Mr Thatcher's death 08/04/2013 - My letter printed in The Courier 19/04/2013
I am sure that Mrs Thatcher won't be turning in her grave over people dancing on it she revelled in that stuff. In life Mrs Thatcher was bitter about feeble opposition in her own party and and the knifing in the back. She certainly had regard for Michael Foot mutual regard for Dennis Healey and could do business with Mr Gorbechov. She was pragmatic and deferred to USA as all Prime Ministers have to.
Sent by email; 10/04/2013
Also in the Courier the previous week was;
You may have thought "Greed is Good" came from her era but the seed started unspoken in the late 1970s but was not spoken openly until the Thatcher Youth who interpreted Thatcherisim that way subsequently. I think Blair/Thatcherism that came subsequently to that might have been an attempt to get people to stand up against selfishness and that interpretation of no society (just selfish genes). New Labour handed Thatcherism back broken but in a new spin now New Labour is blamed for Thatcherism the debt caused by 1980s bank deregulation and no acknowledgement for large debs paid off during New Labour's time. Although not universally held there is a cross party view that "the 1980's was a mistake".
Education - Published; Kent and Sussex Courier 26/04/2013
Edited what was printed is in blue
Along with taking for granted of British engineering, science, textiles etc. in the 1970s and then the discarding all those things in the 1980s, education seems to have become about cramming and homework therefore conditioning. I have heard that soldiers are trained by being put on long periods of square bashing or studying reading with brakes only to smoke a cigarette.
It is important that children learn how to learn and play is a very important part of that. Lessons need to be understood and assimilated. As an electronics engineer my work is creative and interesting for example my first large printed circuit board design was hand drawn in about 1979 and was very tiring work because I needed to think about the electromagnetic fields and putting things together to make the tracks easy to route. I learnt a lot with that company over 30 years, including learning to have brakes and do other things. The company is a scientific instrument maker had a long history of designing and developing highly regarded instrument quickly and right. I was pleased at aged 21 to be accepted as one of the craftsmen.
It seems young people are being trained to operate supermarket tills and do pub quizzes rather than educate to do anything. Engineering and science is very interesting and was so fast moving in the 1960's that it was not until Dr Who when I was five that science fiction caught up. The computers had been around for centuries and programming for a century for doing maths but something entirely new used for code braking of WWII the Universal Turing Machine and so many new things in engineering, physics, Telstar, the mini car. The TARDIS though very far sited, highly researched TV series, was a timely invention.
A school history lesson on the Davy Lamp used in coal mining was made interesting because in understanding how the flame proofing mechanism prevents the internal flame igniting the gas in the coal mine. If the gas within the lamp ignites the hot flame is cooled and thereby extinguishing by a copper mesh as the gas leaves the lamp. I needed think a while to understand the lesson but the lesson was made worth remembering consequently.
I recommend education and plenty of playtime.
Kent on Sunday Sent 13/05/2013 much edited but good version printed 25/05/2013 (different version)
Kent and Sussex Courier, Sent 19/05/2013 printed 24/05/2013 (First letter on the page)
A21 at Castle Hill, Public Inquiry commenced in May 2013
There is a case for not increasing the capacity of the A21 section at Castle Hill. Many of the issues are the same as they were 20 years ago but some things have changed. At the end of the public inquiry 20 years ago it was commented that the environmental issues would be more significant if the on line route were pursued. At that time 1980s planning was criticised for development at North Farm in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The main objection remains that more traffic would be attracted in to Tunbridge Wells causing congestion and poor air quality in the town. Poor air quality causes, I read recently, 45,000 deaths a year. Subsequently much time and consultation was spent on Tunbridge Wells and the one way system put in the town later in the 1990's has been very successful.
The A26 is at capacity, there would be no benefit, other than a brief dip when the A21 opens, even if many cars take another route into town many more cars would use this road. There have been 25,000 vehicles on this road for decades. In Southborough the pedestrian, cycles on the crossings seem to be timed so that drivers cueing see pedestrians waiting as well to cross unnecessarily. The extra lane makes the Yew Tree Road junction difficult for cyclists but do many more vehicles see significant improvement in there journey time? A roundabout at this junction would need some trees to be cut down and make the junction difficult for pedestrians and cyclist perhaps move the bottleneck along a bit and attract more the cars with air quality issues on to the road unchanged.
Road safety is quoted but the A21 at Castle Hill has had a notably good safety record in the past but the number of fatalities on that road has increased since the large roundabout was built at the end of Longfield Road. Recently road surface type was sited recently as a reason for a fatality but the road otherwise did not merit a change in the surfacing. Weighing cause and effect is difficult. For example a study in about 1998 for building a crossing on High Brooms Road concluded that the crossing would reduce number of reported accidents from 12 in two years to 2 in two years but the crossing has not been constructed. In 1977 a multiple car crash with fatalities on the A21 just north of the Tonbridge and Tonbridge Wells A26 junction lead to the barriers be put on central reserve.
Additionally the needs of the North Farm Industrial Estate may conflict with traffic concerns in Sherwood. If this road scheme were not approved it may be that environmental issues might be blamed but this would be a mistake. For two decades it has been understood that Predict and provide is dead, in Road building, you have to study the problems. So the message is, we road users, are the problem and like everything complain then eventually we have to do something different ourselves. I think there is case for the models to be put on the TWBC website so that people could see the consequences and the effect of mitigations, the points I make are well understood.
* In May, Kent on Sunday published a comment article by Gregg Clark MP in favour of the road.
Employability enablement and sharing fairly to manage austerity created by oils and environmental conditions,
Sent 08 July 2013, To the K&S Courier - not printed
As one of the unemployed I was sent by the Job centre to K-College to do a course called Employability. This course was very helpful, encouraging and has left me with my Curriculum Vitae that looks good, is shorter and neater. So many things that Job centre do seem to be just to process you, their discretion undermined by inflexible rules. A few who attended did not like being there but most people did. Most of us were not given all or accurate the information prior that college wanted us to have and most of us had to take time out of the course to sign on though in my case TW Job centre did conceded that was not necessary after, I similarly, made a phone call.
I see so many people in the Library's and Gateway struggling with computers that the Job centres require them to do but this requires Gateway or Library staff help because of a lack of Job centre staff to help them. The ways of the job centres inconvenience, colleges, employers receiving people sent on Red Herring's, I should say the Job centre staff try to be helpful and do empathise but are bound by restrictions. But there free phones can't be used for all phone number types associated with a claim I understand. Many many jobs don't need computer and other literacy skills so why require people to apply for those jobs or why do government departments and all service providers discriminate and expect computer skills? The K-college are developing there employability and basic literacy training courses with real tutoring this is good.
Perhaps we should be looking after the things that add value to life as well as provide jobs, The Victoria Hall, Southborough, The parks, cemeteries and the park keepers who not only mow the grass but because of there presents supervise the big kids that they have known since they were small kids. I hear that the cabinet system at TWBC is good but I still think that what was before which ran more committees officers and thereby made council more accountable was better and would usefully employ more people.
Oil supply decline, environmental conditions, determines genuinely Austerity, not the created depressions we have periodically. People and government chose to share fairly or not. More people used to be able to afford homes in the 1970s after the oil crisis and before the north sea oil bonanza it was the way people wanted it to be then. Perhaps the Nuclear, Military and Surveillance Industrial complex is getting so big that it has changed the way people think. We need to say stop this monster is wasteful and dreadful. Spreading peace and kindness would be much better value for money.
Thank you K-College
Andrew H Lohmann
Southborough Pantomime 2013-2014 Sent 15/01/2014 - Not printed
The Southborough Pantomime was excellent this year. This is the first time I have seen the new company they are producing another show at Easter. I first went to a Southborough Panto in about 1962.
In the current climate of cutting things that are good, Tunbridge Wells Tourist Information etc. I had my worst experience staying away having booked something without TIC. The former Tunbridge Wells Allied Dunbar who sold me a pension that after 25 years become valueless and phone providers like talk-talk that charges come first and service is poor.
Clearly people love the hall and the Panto beyond any monetary value lets hope it along with the park and cemetery keepers, the common, nature reserve continue. These things and the sport that has come off so well on the Ridgewaye having in the past been perhaps a questionable invested (when I was election on a Labour manifesto to keep the Green Lung of Southborough in 1995) and extra cost of mowing and maintenance good things providing useful work as well.
Southborough Town Councillor (1995-2007)
Time to Live within means - printed Courier 28/02/2014
Sent 23/02/2014 printed Courier 28/02/2014 - Edited with the Courier article reference added http://www.courier.co.uk/Solar-park-bosses-bright-idea-reduce-residents/story-20675072-detail/story.html. Black bits were printed with a minor correction included.
I wish The solar electricity project, described in the Courier, success. Solar, water and wind power have been used for millennia by humans. There are super grids carrying electricity between the Nordic countries, France, UK and proposals to carry solar electricity from the deserts of Africa very efficiently.
Alfred Bouch makes a good point about lie that Nuclear Power being so cheap that it would not be worth the cost to metering it. I believe one of my old Auntie's bought electric storage heaters based on that lie. The Military Industrial Complex do little other than cost vast amounts of money of cause something's come out of that work like the Harrier jump jet (1968). Britain's engineering that was second to none (as Americans Canadians Germans but few English will tell you) the Mini (1959) and the Universal Turing Machine (1936) and imagination in Dr. Who's TARDIS of humans becoming like celestial beings through rational science, perhaps? Nuclear power has been solely carried out to make bombs but outside of the inefficient military, in the same way that the men that landed on the moon did not go there to play golf with equipment taken with them but to develop rockets. The men on the moon gave us a perspective of how insignificant we are but US space science never did match the Soviet's though.
Let us not kid ourselves crushing rocks to get oil out them may be more than another loss making channel tunnel project but the constructors will get paid. We need to live with Badgers, not walk dogs in Bird Nature reserves and balance our preparations for environmental variation not deny those things whilst endlessly cutting corners saving money.
In the 1960's people worked hard it was a fast moving exciting time. In 1970 people had work, perhaps just 100,000 looking for work and homes but costs were much higher though income was more equitable (there was of course still the vastly wealthy) The 1980's onwards has been the era of the couch potato, fantasy, denial and disconnection from nature and populist government which people don't like even though they asked for get what they ask for. Fewer and fewer luck people will be employed whilst more and will be on benefit working were directed to work by a private agency paid for by government - I expect!
So lets consume less and live with our environment instead of running faster toward the clichéd Rat Race under surveillance.
Business does what owner said it would - Letter to the Courier - printed 21/03/2014
An edited version printed. Black bits were printed with a minor corrections included.
I don't agree with the letter published about Secret Desires in Southborough last week. The owner of the business came to Southborough Town Council years ago and described what their licensed business would be doing and it does comply with that. But rather than mention that business only their are a number of Café's, shops that are novel and good in Southborough just in that stretch of road. Cafe Bliss has nice conventional food, Saffron and the Water Margin and there are a few others all stands out as better than a lot for miles around, a choice of two particularly good bakers. So lets not worry ourselves or necessarily draw attention to this legal business by comparison tabloid news papers operate at lower levels.
There are plenty of legal vices; Gambling and the National Lottery, Gluttony, wast and the fiction of growth in finite world, Usury and bank deregulation, and the eternal squeeze on people, the environment and anything that is any good dressed up as savings and democracy. The continual replacement of incredibly expensive nuclear submarines like Trident and the hatred that is spread to justify that. The free carrier bag. The cost in money and inconvenient to cyclists of the extra filter lane at Yew Tree Road and London Road and the further inconvenience to pedestrians and loss of trees at Southborough Library if the proposal proceeds to replace it with a roundabout.
The Hole we keep digging for ourselves - Letter to The Courier printed 21/03/2014.
An edited version printed. Black bits were printed with a minor corrections included.
I share concern, with the letter writer last week, ("Withdraw Permission for Knights Park") for destruction of ancient woodland, rare wild birds and flowers between Sherwood and the A21 which I put in response to planning consultation last year. Although the Green surround of Tunbridge Wells has been protected by county plan in the past, planning refusal on Knights Park was overturned by the Secretary of State for the Environment years ago compromising that protection.
There has been land speculation on the land surround the A21 for at least a few decades and when I objected in 1993 to the A21 widening then, I picked up a cynical comment that road building does not cost the government money because the surrounding land's value increases after the road is built when it is resold. The hole we dig for ourselves by continually cutting budgets and at the same time living by the ideology of growth means that there are unplanned outcomes.
The most difficult thing to do is to manage things well and redistribute fairly. But did anyone say, do that, in council when they were thinking about budget and staff cuts in the Assembly Hall, the Mela say no these things are important I will vote to raise the council rate? For that matter when the military industrial complex says they want more does anyone dare say no? When the proposal for the extra lane at the junction of London Road and Yew Tree Road was proposed and the next proposal for a roundabout taking out those trees by Southborough library did anyone say NO, pot holes, pedestrians, cyclist, the homeless, unemployed and in need first?
Andrew H Lohmann
Library PCs need updating - Courier 04/04/2014
An edited version printed. Black bits were printed with a minor corrections included. An amended version sent 30/03/2014
I visit the job centre fortnightly and also use the Library and Gateway computers regularly rather than sit at home. Those computers are good and fairly well maintained. I regularly see people and help those sometimes who are trying to do things on-line because that is the only way, even though there are unemployed who could be properly employed to provide a human face to whatever is required. A lot of those using the computers are unemployed and some of them will never need to access a computer for the type of job they could do. To put the point to it's extreme lifting a computer mouse will not tell an employer if they can lift a heavy manual tool. To make things worse the Gateway and Library computers have been in need of an update, possibly of Java, or would work better with Firefox browser. This is so that the many things that can be done with Google don't seem to work on Internet Explorer which Google both warn needs updating and also advise the version installed is compatible. But Java may be out of date the those computers. The significant problem is that it is not possible to compose a gmail email. People will be loosing there Job-seekers claim over such a situation let alone being unable to pin down work. I feel that the job-centres chase people through hoops unnecessarily. This is not always down to over zealous officers of the job-centre but pressure put on those staff. People have said to me the Gateway is, by comparison more helpful. The computers run Windows XP which is robust stable and it may carry on working for a year or so if you accept the updates to Internet Explorer, Java that is even though XP will have ceased updating. When it does have to be replaced then Linux is now becoming a strong robust alternative in which some variants are faster than XP, if you want to avoid this wasteful Microsoft computer scrappage scheme.
NOTE; I have been investigating Windows XP and alternatively some versions of Linux.
Air Quality - Revised letter sent 29 April to the Courier - Not printed
With Easter my Walnut Tree started growing leaves two months early this year and I have also visited Hastings by train for the first time this year with the re-opening of the rail line. First hand evidence that the climate is changing. Over 30 years ago global warming was predicted by the first computer model of climate. This model displaced the forecast of imminent Ice Age coming.
There are a considerably number of inconvenient truths about the way we live now. So much so that the cliché is An Inconvenient Truth is avoided or denied as a hot potato. The A26 through Southborough and Tunbridge Wells, like a lot of roads was declared an Air Quality Management Area in 2006 by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. The air quality had been monitored using diffusion tubes placed on lamp posts for over a decade or so prior had resulted in poor air quality warnings. You can see a monitor station placed on the A26 as you enter Southborough from Tunbridge Wells in 2006.
The number of people dying annually in the UK due to road vehicle emissions has risen from up to 24,000 (New Scientist January 1998) to 29,000 (EU 2014). An inconvenient truth is that very many more would use this part of the A26 if there were the capacity but the proposed roundabout is just more tinkering that would obstruct cyclists. In any case the new slip lane at Yew Tree road has nothing but obstruct cyclist and pedestrians in any case. There evidently is a problem therefore in persuading people not to use roads so much even though this is the best solution.
Although people who complain about British government and EU laws don't spell out what specifically they don't like; Environmental laws?, The Working time Directive?, Nesting Birds Directive? or the British Sale of Goods Act and the 6 year warranty on new goods. It seems to me that the problem is that those things are not enforced in the UK. These are all good laws though. Vehicle pollution on the A26 is a problem that we need to say no to. In doing that collectively we can think of the ways through.
For example when new buildings are constructed or existing modified on that road the advise is that they should be designed to draw in air from the back (away from the road). By making this objection when planning applications are considered and The Local Plan reviewed the issue will be considered more prominently.
At the moment 38 Degrees is running a petition you can sign that at;
More children suffer asthma and allergies than did 50 years ago when I attended infant school.
Junction - Now it is worse for cyclist - Printed in The Courier 01/08/2014
Printed with little editing.
The junction at Yew Tree Road should not have been altered in recent years or be altered again loosing trees. The road is at capacity and these changes made the junction difficult for cyclists but have not eased traffic. But there is a need for faster response time for pedestrians at the pelican crossings particularly at times when the traffic is either not moving or will be shortly held up again anyway or the traffic is lighter and faster.
There is also a need for crossing points on Yew Tree and High Brooms Road (The case for a crossing was studied in about 1998 which showed a likely reduction of incidents reported from 12 to 2 in two years). It is also unlikely that people will use cars less so that the air quality will not improve without adaptations to buildings so that they draw in air from the back away from the road has been suggested.
It is evident that policies have changed on how traffic is managed on the A26. The A21 inspectors report recently drew attention to the fact that A21 widening would not increase traffic on other roads. Planning policy has changed and many more accesses on to the A26 have been permitted such as Tesco, Southborough which that company won at appeal. Permitting such pinch-points, a policy I first heard about over 20 years ago prior to the first public inquire into the A21 at Castle Hill, There are many more accesses from the A26 which tends to change the road from a strategic to a local road perhaps we will see the road signage change consequently so that industrial traffic is not directed this way?
Local councils guide quite a lot of money at Barnetts Wood Nature Reserve, but surely more spent on those things the Common, Pond, The Ridgeway, Victoria Hall, are good and provide useful local work. But there are many more socially useful things councils should be doing that just result in tree destruction in fast becoming unattractive town. Such things amount to populist mob rule by voting instead of reason and democracy possibly by people who don't use Southborough anyway?
Green Energy - The Kent and Sussex Courier 24/12/2014
Printed with some editing the black text was printed.
In November Tunbridge Wells United Nations Association hosted a public meeting on energy. The meeting encompassed fracking but also green energy solutions. There were three good speakers, Howard Porter (Tonbridge Friends of the Earth), Mark Moody (Skinners School), Dr. Alan Bullion (Tunbridge Wells UNA).
The teacher from a Skinners' grammar School showed us with slides inspiring education about of green energy. This encouragement is what is need for change to happen. I asked the teacher the question at the end of the meeting that I generally ask at any occasion, how do you inspire people to do better things and give them the slack to be able to do them?
This sort of action question rarely gets asked - I think that is a cultural, dumbed down TV and temperament thing. The public questions were on technicalities, money such as carbon tax or credits. Over the past 35 years people in this country have become so uninspired looking at price but not value. The cliché rat race, although not that animals live this way. The consequence is that if you have a money centred agenda people think dirty might be cheap but dirty of cause might be just dirty but never inspired.
The teacher's answer, by the way, was; Show one child how to do something then encourage him to show his friends what he has done. Wonderful little else need be said!
Wishing you all gluttonous and sparkly seasonal greetings
Dumb down TV, politics and war machine. - Sent 13/04/2015 (not printed)
Since the Courier article some years ago about the man who has had no TV since 1988, I have spent time watching old TV series that can be found on the web. They were good traditional story telling that building up, took care to segregate fact and fiction and the TV series ended before viewers had had enough, leaving people wanting more. In addition the story’s, such as ones before my birth that mum enjoyed such as Quatemass and A for Andromeda told the whole story the meeting discussed the problem and they trust that the professor will sort it even though they don't understand his ways. The story's had human interaction, fallibility and importantly an understanding human temperament something I have also been looking . These along with Dad's army and so many others are popular with younger people now who would not have watched them originally.
I enjoyed the first five Doctor Who's, original Star Trek but the modern stuff is too nice and often plain historically wrong so that viewers might think that the Quaker chocolate makers were evil rather than philanthropic Victorians in one fairly recent Dr Who story. A criticism that many decades ago would be levelled at American imported TV but is now more so with English TV. David Attenborough has been coming clean on a lot of artistic license he used admitting last year (The reunion Radio 4, April 2014 ) that those dangerous wild gorilla’s he relaxed with 36 years ago were Diane Flossy's Gorilla's that were accustom to humans. There is of cause good film and TV but it is berried in choice and I fear people have forgotten where the off switch is so therefore many theatres and community halls close locally through lack of use. I should say the Southborough Panto and many people who looked after the hall worked so hard to keep it going over decades.
So it is not surprising that Politics reflects this. People are just the same as the people they vote for. Just the same as the sparkle, magic, shooting and killing has substituted story telling in TV that is not humane, but over polite, nice or cut to the chase nasty. Another big part of the problem is the fantasy UK has got away with of money creation and the size of military spending by the UK government which still is a staggering 30% of the NHS budget. The war industry on such a scale is a very big opportunity for waste and to make trouble around the world that distorts everything. Although the bomb never went up due to failure of technology, people disobeying the order and the Soviet Union waving the white flag and folding rather than be killed . So that Maslow's hierarchy of needs mentioned in Courier letters does not at the highest degree of comfort cultivate empathy. What is lost in high contrast, intense brightness life people live is subtle detail so that in nature there things that are not noticed which are at least as wonderful as things created by TV fiction for example animals called; Tardigrades are able to match all the environmental extremes that a timelord can withstand including surviving in space as well as at temperatures of 150'C.
St. Mary’s, The Castle in the Rocks, Hastings, Easter Bank Holiday, April 2015.
This is as good as it gets - the cars are there, not spoiling the picture that is as it is. I held the camera above my head even so to reduce the impact of the foreground and in that way the picture is like it is perceived.
Camera used was a Cannon IXUS 60
In there time the TV documentary story films like Cathy come home, Up the junction, Hell Drivers illustrated important issues and I'm All right jack said to ridiculed unions but is about stealing in the docks that everyone including the managers as well were complicit in. The black market was address in the 1960s by the introduction of containerisation and paper work. Commercial and state TV cultivated a social collective responsibility  and society.
During my time as a Southborough town councillor (1995 - 2007) there was a lot of messing about, it is not politics but it can be bullying such as spoiling the others good things and voting for their mistakes. Some of us stood up to this and worked with anyone to get a good outcome. The problem is individuals that John Major called bastards. Adversarial politics, adversarial law, first past the post voting is the problem win or loose as opposed to cooperate and that problem goes through business and everything. The change from a mixed economy 35 years ago to capitalism red in tooth and claw, selfish to the point that things are broken. Nature is not like that but is mostly symbiotic and parasites evolve to become complimentary partners.
During my time a few of us were able to out manoeuvre so much messing about. It was hard work and took preparing for but as I say the outcomes were good.
Friends of the Earth Meat Free May - printed; 13/05/2015 Tunbridge Wells Times.
Printed with some editing the black text was printed.
Friends of the Earth are running a campaign Meat Free May. I am not an ethical, healthy eater but I do try. Availability of Vegan and nice crunchy vegetables when I eat out rather than very over cooked that you get most places would help. I don't want to suffer for the good of the world but to enjoy the food, and the veg and feeling well on it. Consuming milk which is the worse for the formation of the greenhouse gas methane, the meat and leather are by-products of milk production. So switching from leather shoes which I have done is not about the environment or animal welfare but a piece of symbolism I chose to make.
As far as personal health is concerned you can be a junk food Vegan as you chose but if you eat all the colours in your fruit and veg plus beans, nuts and seeds you will be fine. I find and others report, land based particularly, meat consumption is bad or very bad. Some blood groups people find a little meat is okay but not necessary.
We came out of the jungle or the Garden of Eden as root and vegetable eaters and physically herbivorous and some of us have adoptions for milk etc. But of cause many will argue against that vigorously so just try and see for yourself, Vegan food is not "super-foods" as we are told but the correct food for humans and therefore super. I found tea without milk much nicer after switching for a month, Meat took years before I overcame the desire for it although the benefit was very marked and immediate But milk, cheese etc. took a year of total abstinence before there was a benefit. Conversely grains don't seem to be good.
There are good ethical reasons for not consuming animals and there are a lot of Christian based café’s who preach and serve only Vegan food in Peru I discovered and used on a holiday there. I therefore admit to many air miles which are very polluting.
If you eat out in Tunbridge Wells many places will do a variation for you; Ragged Trousers, Black Dog, Kitsu, Lo-Gi, Trinity Theatre, Kai's Kitchen, The Royal Wells Hotel many of the Pizza, Chinese and Indian restaurants, such as Pizza Express, New Diamond, Weavers, Water Margin in Southborough. Places like Sainsburys have lists of ingredients and for example the vegi-chilli baked potato is vegan as standard. Muffin Break also have a dairy free cake option.
The Bicycle Bakery, Camden Road makes bread the traditional way flour, Sunflower oil, yeast and a pitch of salt it is one of the best and Smiths Patisserie, Silverdale Road has been the best for three decades particularly the Sunflower and Multi-seeded loaves which are dairy free.
But if you want to enjoy your veg prepare them at home and you can join one of the vegan groups for tips. You find many vegan groups on Facebook for example.
Some franchises are very good in some towns and just plain indifferent in other towns. I have listed a few which do better than just provide something but that it is very nice as well.
The Aylesford Paper recycling plant closed;
This occurred earlier this year and consequently an article in the Kent and Sussex Courier on 19/06/2015 asked Tunbridge Wells Friends of the Earth for a comment which I gave a comment as a member of that group. I have followed up with this letter; published 03-07-2015
Printed with some editing the black text was printed. Red words were added.
Thank you for drawing our attention to the closure of the Aylesford newsprint recycling plant ("Campaigners fears paper collections are slipping, June 19). This is unfortunate I visited the plant some years ago and I was very impressed with the operation there. The plant had very few employees but was mostly machines running automatically. Newspaper is not a grey as it used to be although a percentage of the paper fibre is recycled. I notice that very few leaflets that come through my letter box are printed with ink using stencil or type on low grade paper which would have a lot of coarse and recycled fibre. The only organisations who use such paper in there leaflets are political party's and environmental groups - this is not enough.
When I have attempted to take things for recycling or proper disposal to the North Farm facilities by foot I found it is difficult because the public are not allowed to walk in using the footpath. An employee was accommodating and allowed me to put the stuff down outside near the gate and he then arranged for those things to be taken in.
I now use have avoided visiting the North Farm with things to dispose of but in any case there are many people on the website Freegle locally for example who take things or give them and I use that a lot. Shops, as they should, do take things in like batteries.
SUNSHINE GLARE - It's sensible to take care; Published Courier 29-01-2016
The Courier explained in another article that the trains were held up longer because the driver needed to get out and look down the train to see if it was clear to move.
The car crash was on the A21 in the dip before the turn off to Tonbridge and Southborough in January 1977 (30th?). A drunk saleman had driven his car across the central reserve and into an on coming car killing the driver and very seriously injuring that driver's girl friend. I recall thinking the road was clear because of the lights from the flyover bridge ahead reflecting on the A21 but it was dark with no light from the crashed cars in the dip. My car's headlights reflected on some metal and my car pulled up very quickly, Mini's drum brakes are good and tend to be anti-skid but I was close and there is memory missing from after the speedo dropped below 30MPH and a memory of a scream from the other car.
As a consequence of the inquest the Department of Transport put a central barrier between the two carriageways at this location. I think this was the 12th case of cars crossing the central reserve at this location?
Printed with some editing blue text was removed and black text was printed. Red text was added.
In The last weeks Courier of January 15, the editor expressed ridicule of a train driver not taking a train out due to the sun in his eyes. On the roads it is quite normal to see cars driven in ways that are not safe such as also on ice, or as fast as possible across crossings once the light go to red and amber and despite children still crossing. I read a comment on Streetlife (social media) recently about driving speed in side roads saying "If it is clear I go for it".
Having been involved in a multiple-car crash very many years ago and having also taken due care the experience is best avoided in my opinion. I pleased that in the main professional and most drivers including train drivers do not drive this way. And I am sure it was a deliberately provocative of the Courier to suggest anyone should.
Things aren't what they were; Published Courier, 26 February 2016
Printed with some editing blue text was removed and black text was printed. Red text was added. Green case changed from a sentence ending and new starting to comma.
Many of the letters published are the usual moaners spinning things to enhance their point. What Churchill said on Europe depended on who he spoke to and primarily saying whatever was necessary to get the objective he desired, to win a war and the peace after. Like all political party's of that time the objective was to bring the standards of life up of the people - the same was true of the USSR, USA, all of Europe and many other places. To put meat on the table of everyone to paraphrase.
Anyway that was over 70 years ago and things are different now. It is not possible for everyone too live like Royalty with meat and any other junk food without moderating it and eating your fruit and veg. So the consequence is greed is good, the coach potato culture with the home delivered pizza and lager, with medicine to fix what in medieval times would be called the diseases of the wealthy caused by those excesses.
UK is now very much more like USA, red in tooth and claw type business. UK in with USA making a nuisance of itself in Europe, at home and everywhere else thereby undoing many of those, looking after the little people, post WW2 things. Looking after the people started at the beginning of the 20th century with the National insurance Act that re-instated a form of medieval Poor-Law. Then 70+ years ago with the debt owed by the few too the many.
I am sure that if those pre-1980 politicians were around now they would have been ridiculed for there inconsistencies, rather than praised for there fine objectives. The encouragement of the worst in people and business rather than aspire to the best is the way of things now, by comparison.
Look to selves before griping; Published; Courier, 8 April 2016
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Complaints about rail services but conversely fewer complaints about other services seem to be a British thing. From my experience Kent has the best rail services in the country and always has been so under private ownership, but for Railtrack who were dreadful. Better at giving train information before the train leaves and manages the high capacity usage well. In the case of Rail which has an effective complaint system but complain about buses, financial services and your six year sale of goods act guarantee on new goods and you might find the effort futile.
So perhaps the problem is that those other things are not regulated well or law is not enforced in a strange public desire to cut red tape and the other man's job? It is also true that working in London is hard going and that was true under the mythical great times of British Rail when I recall travelling to London for an evening concerts and observing people travailing the other way looked drained when they had hardly started their journey home.
So why do people not moan about vehicle's on the road although they account for most of 40,000 deaths a year due to air quality, according to the Royal College of Physicians recently. Obviously people do complain about that but there is reluctance to look at ourselves rather than to join in and blame governments and organisations. So to those who also complain about local government, government and the EU - "what have they done" well look for yourself rather than repeat what others say!
There are of cause people in organisations, companies and government who are not constructive, councillors and MPs who are in it to have a go at the other lot and they are useless. So be encouraging and be fair even though doing so is unpopular.
The town centre is quite good, the measures at Southborough Yew Tree Road junction look more helpful than any others that have been proposed and the hub is good given that there is willingness to make it work. It is a shame about the Victoria Hall and the wonderland Panto, which I first enjoyed as a very small boy in about 1962 but whatever is said support was only lip-service for a long time.
Happiness is less profitable; Published; Courier, 6 May 2016
SGR forum message;
NOTE: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published its annual briefing on world military spending yesterday - see:
A few headlines:
- World military spending stood at $1.7 trillion in 2015, an increase of 1% (in real terms) over the previous year - the first increase since 2011.
- The UK has climbed back up to 5th in the list, with Saudi Arabia - the leading recipient of UK arms exports - rising to 3rd above Russia.
- US military spending is nearly 3 times that of 2nd place China and 9 times that of 4th place Russia.
- NATO's European member states spend more than China and nearly 4 times more than Russia.
- Overall, NATO member states spend more than all other countries combined.
NHS assessment is based on the Guardian Newspaper's feature, 18 January 2016.
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There has been correspondence on the NHS recently. Some of it looks like private insurance sales talk, the NHS covers all areas including prevention better and more cheaply than an other health service in the world. All the staff including the junior doctors need to be looked after by us better, they cover 24/7 but that does not mean the NHS should be run like a 24/7 convenience sweet shop.
By comparison British government's spending on the military is excessive and increasing again and at about 30% of the NHS budget. Kill must surely be possible at a much cheap cost than that. 5th largest in the world budget, I read recently, and our own nuclear weapons could cause a nuclear winter for eight years according to Scientist for Global Responsibility.
The most frightening thing is the rise of nationalism is a symptom of the industrial complex stirring up conflict for commercial gain. Specifically the US indecent desire for UK to chuck more at the military industrial complex (Obama). UK to host war in Europe (Trump) but that is a 40 year old policy restated. - But I suppose the difference now is that when policy changed under President Jimmy Carter's term in office and the nature of the "special relationship" became sick, was not overtly stated. Now it is out and in the open. A British Prim-minister elect does not need to be summoned to the White House to have his arms twisted to know that.
Why not then promote peace, looking after the little people, promoting health instead and look after the junior doctors better instead? Because causing less happiness is profitable!
REFERENDUM - Process driven by an excessive minority - Printed in the Courier 24 June 2016
Britain’s recent influence in Europe has been to, not pay it's way, to send members to make a nuisance of themselves and the biggest to force loans on struggling members who even so did not want to take the loans - "so called" bail out, Big Bang and Quantitative easing. Perhaps the referendum was to allow Britain to put a brave face on being chucked out of the EU?
I hope Scotland stays in the EU it is a quite different pragmatic industrious country compared to England.
Personally I am not so excited about the vote to leave but if the value of the pound stays low the couch potato culture will have end and people work, the EU Poles and the commonwealth Africans and Asians won't do the work for them. Business that make non-CE compliant things and their are many, will have to meet the standard or fall. Those things hard lessons are good I accept.
I voted on the referendum by postal vote the day the ballot paper arrive but my vote was based on what I think of the EU before the Anti-Europe clowns started clowning about in recent years. The quality of debate was very serious when it was carried out in the 1970's as was most political debate then. But I am sure that the anti-EU campaigners will carry on campaigning against the EU in side or out of it from the day after the referendum vote as they did with the first referendum in 1975.
Many years ago a small group of people called on Southborough Town Council to have a referendum on the EU. That council did not have an Euro bank account or anything particularly EU but it spent a lot of money running the pole for about 20 people to vote to tell that council to not do things it was not doing. In other words the outcome put a compelling case to start doing those things. Any way Many people say the EU does not enforce its directives, This is true, but now perhaps it should?
Question is key - not promises - Printed in the Courier 08 July 2016
The referendum has been judged a dirty and racist campaign. Questions on should UK leave the EU were diminishing 30 years ago when it could be seen that the EU was getting on with social, environmental and other things constructively. The Conservative Party promising to leave the EU in order to get other support when many of it's voters started supporting New Labour 20 years ago. There is no doubting that Tony Blair is the most effective British speaker and Prim-Minister of this century even with the most adverse questioning of his past deeds he holds up. But sadly some New Labour Blair supporters are choosing to distract the media from the Conservative Party's internal grief rather than get on with being a constructive opposition. New Labour MPs having been supporting or have been the popularist nastier party and have been attacking there party leader such as whilst he was making an unequivocal apology for the actions of the party as criticised by Chilcot the inquiry.
The bottom line though is there are two questions for parliament;
- What is does about the referendum result on EU membership.
- With the Chilcot Inquiry having just reported the whole of parliament owe the same apology to many who died and to countries that were "bombed back the stone age" for cheaper oil and other American interests that the Labour leader made for a previous Labour Government.
I think back to the 1970's when wine and beer were expensive but we had a free national health service (including good dentistry and a prescription charge of 20p) but Many European country's had very poor public health services so a holiday would require some thought before travelling.
One of the things that I learnt in politics is that you are voting on what is written in the motion not on any other issues or promises, Those are irrelevant talk.
All sorts of things that were said in the EU referendum but their was one question and that has now been answered, if indecisively and Parliament must now consider what it does about the result. and what happens for Scotland, and negotiation should be for that country as well it is very different to England.
Dreadful Legacy - Printed in the Courier 19 August 2016
The petitions I mentioned "Parliament make a full and unequivocal apology for UK's part in invading Iraq" Are at;
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/159999 This petition took a lot longer to be approved than the website advised so I started a duplicate at; https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/parliament-make-a-full-and-unequivocal-apology-for-uk-s-part-in-invading-iraq (you can sign both). There is a spelling mistake in the supporting text but unfortunately I can not correct that;
There is a case for parliament to make a full unequivocal apology for going to war with USA on Iraqi, killing so many of their people and our soldiers following the outcome of Chilcot Inquiry. Be sceptical about Trident submarine replacement and other military things USA may try to pull UK into.
USA simply went to war with an aim of "bomb back to the stone age" countries with things they wanted. Senior US spokes persons have admitted that the motive for invasion was because Saddam was seeking to raise the price of oil. Parliament used a lie to disguise its reasons. It is time to be somewhat sceptical about what USA expects of UK. Now is time to apologies.
Scientist for Global Responsibility provide the information on Nuclear Winter. Nuclear winter continues to be studied and the effect is predicted to be more severe than was thought in the early 1980's.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published its annual briefing on world military spending yesterday - see: http://books.sipri.org/product_info?c_product_id=512
Trident - I did not use this reference; http://cnduk.org/images/stories/May_2016.pdf
See Dr Philip Webber's report to SGR conference last year at; http://www.sgr.org.uk/events/messages-paris-conference-forgotten-dimensions-climate-change
Title - Printed ????
Popular TV portrays a nasty world and in response, I think, political party's talk using the lowest of standards in respect and courtesy. Coincidentally British government spending on warfare is 5th highest in the world. They thrive on conflict that they use to justify themselves surely has spread into culture. At the end of world war two in less than a week air raids on Japan were doing as much damage as the first nuclear bomb that was dropped on Japan in August 1945.
If one of the small nuclear armed countries conducted war there would be a significant nuclear winter. If Britain with its much bigger nuclear force used ours the nuclear winter would be deeper and last 8 years. These weapons individually may be comparable to the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 which killed 80 and 40 thousand respectively on those largely evacuated cities but Trident carries rockets with multiple warheads that each one is targeted at a city. It is the multiple firestorms that cause the predicted deep and long nuclear winter. Ultimately there were many more casualties but modern nuclear weapons are predicted to cause such terrible nuclear winter following that by comparison the summer with no sun coined after the Victorian volcano at Krakatoa was very small by comparison.
I don't know if the number ultimately killed if Britain used Trident would be a billion but surely a dreadful legacy and not at all what was wished for after world war two when the effects of those Japanese weapons were studied and reported in the year following 1945 bombing [*].
I am sure member's of parliament must have in many cases convinced themselves of a much bigger lie than the WMD lie mentioned in the Chilcot report into the war on Iraq to support such a dreadful weapon system. But it is now time for "Parliament make a full and unequivocal apology for UK's part in invading Iraq" to quote a petition I have started on https://petition.parliament.uk and also with 38 Degrees.
There is a case for parliament to be sceptical about Trident submarine replacement and other military things USA may pull UK into. USA simply went to war with an aim of "bomb back to the stone age" countries with things they wanted. Senior US spokes persons have admitted that the motive for invasion was because Saddam was seeking to raise the price of oil.
There is also a case for political party's to not select or reselect candidates who are just in it to fight the other lot. There is no useful purpose in acting in a confrontational way in the world, Europe and with each other locally. Even if we can live as couch potatoes off the financial gains from money and war creation.
* The Effects of the Atom Bombs at Hiroshima, and Nagasaki Report of the British mission to Japan HMSO 1946 British Mission Home Office
Lessons from the two world wars - Printed; Tunbridge Wells Times, 14 November 2018
Dear Letters Editor,
I started riding my bike again after 30 years. It is a 1946 sports bike with all the best things you could have on a sports bike of that era, light to pedal by any standard, 4 speed alloy hub and a modern exciting logo. Lenton sports and like the NHS, that first post war Labour manifest with a brilliant sun rising on the cover. The beginning of the post war consensus all putting forward optimising and hope.
I find it strange that pro-EU people warn that leave will hurt us, we know that it is common ground. The UKiP campaign before the referendum repeated we should do it, leave, even if it does hurts. The opponents to the EU have been campaigning since the referendum in 1975 although many of us changed our minds 30 years ago. The EU was becoming very good, getting on with forming unity and mutual support. The EU in 1988 was not pie in the sky, wishful thinking that it sounded like in 1975. I recall Peter Shaw (against) and another MP (for) both saying ultimately it would become a federal union in 1975.
I find the way the clowns shout about and do nothing, dreadful, this also harms us all. Nigel Farage's office send me a reply to an issue and it is a video of him shouting at other MEP's but doing or saying nothing helpful. Other MEP's told me what was happening in a considered reply. It is harmful to the Labour Party and the Conservative Government that the leaderless New Labour mob and what John Major called "Bastards" are doing harm to politics.
After the first world war King George V tried to persuade the winners to look after the ordinary people at home and the German people. This did not happen and people suffered badly leading to the rise of Hitler. In turn leading to the second world war.
The difference with the second world war was that the lesson was learned and we came out with friendships. So why we set conflict in Palestine and with USSR is largely to do with wanting oil and to profit from conflict. Those should have been genuine friendships as well.
Brexit is a lesson forgotten by choice of some with bad motives, bloody-mindedness.
2019 General Election on Leave/remain the EU; Not Printed - Tunbridge Wells Times, 4 November 2019
It is disappointing that their will be a general election now, that is because we have fixed term parliament so that the sitting party can not chose the time that suits them. Making law then making an exception was surely not the point but evidently it was! If Government had been dissolved and a new government formed from the existing MPs perhaps Remain/Leave had been sorted then the election would be on other issues. There will always be people who are opposed to a United States of Europe project they have never ceased their opposition to since before the 1975 referendum.
I changed my mind Europe at about the time the EEC became the EU because I could see it was not pie-in-the-sky ideal but we had VAT in common, directives like the Nesting Birds Directive had become law before 1980 and during the 1980s employment, social laws setting minimum standards started coming. In some cases UK law is better such as the 6 year Sale of Goods Act warrantee on new things. Some EU directives such as the Nesting Birds Directive are not applied in the UK although they are law but on the other hand companies chose to give better customer rights and others you struggle to just get the rights that the law provides.
Locally Conservatives do quite a good job but the performance of local government is improved by members of other political party's with different viewpoints. A lot has been done to remove those in the local conservative party who would not work with anyone else who came in during the 1980s. Now we see change again and nationally the Conservative Party has expelled its pro-Europe MPs and is now the Leave the EU Party. Their is no place for many Tunbridge Wells conservatives consequently in the Conservative Party. There is no place for Gregg Clark in the Parliamentary Conservative Party although he is the best MP the town has had but of cause different viewpoint on many things to me.
Conservatives have found a way to keep being re-elected by promising to leave the EU but never doing it and this has mostly worked for them for the past 30 years. Conservatives generally are the most populist party and don't make decisions that are unpopular and that is why we probably have a majority of MPs support remain but the decision to remain has not been made but fudged hoping something else will turn up?
So what seems to be coming is a choice between a nasty Conservative Party that Mrs May tried to change but was blocked. Perhaps Mr Farage will be brought in as another dictate absolutely of that party? Any member can vote Labour Party if they never really liked what has happened over the past 40 years and some have said they do not like what the conservative had become. Alternatively, they can join the Lib-Dems perhaps pulling that party in a different centre direction.
The election could be on animal welfare, protection of the environment, looking after the little people. Or lower standards in everything dirty power with poor air quality, GMO food whilst waving a union jack made in the far east. Of cause much of what happens in the UK does is determined by our casino game playing share dealing and banking. Vested interests have grown with little regulation, so big that government have no control over them. Those who lend to government dictate policy and conservative government always do borrow recently much more than in the past.
Evidently the enough voter's are responsible because they have voted for this farce. The national media ensure all issues are clouded and they do not work to support democracy but manipulate and spread cynicism. Alternatively Labour or Green party leaders and spokes people check back with there committees and members and in turn the members use parliamentary procedures to ensure there party's democracy. Individual MP's do usually want to do the best for there constituencies and it is a good strategy to vote for the best person for the job and then hope you don't get a Conservative government and/or a Nigel Farage dictatorship.
To the Ethical Consumer - sent 25-07-2022
Not Printed - The editors have a nice manner of replying to me, acknowledging and discussing my point but saying the letter would not be printed.
Featured letter; St Johns Road air quality shows we need parking fees in Southborough - Printed - Tunbridge Wells Times, 7 September 2022
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The A26 Tonbridge through Tunbridge Wells has been in air quality management measures or significant concern for decades.
It is important that councils do those things that remind people and have reduced that reduce traffic on the A26 through Southborough, that is despite.
Figures in 1993 public inquiry into the much larger 6 six-lane road plan at for the A21 at castle hill predicting more traffic by 2000 (1996 after that new road would have opened).
With 40'C this year is important and a crossing of High Brooms Road near Colebrook Road has been needed for decades.
I am pleased to see the letter a few weeks ago in support of parking charges be introduced in Southborough.
I add my support for cycling be improved and acknowledge there has been improvements for cyclist since 2000 in any case and it was encouraging to see people using there bikes a lot in the first Covid lock-down.
Grants for TWBUGs proposals need be applied for.
Like so many I suffer with breathing difficulty due to vehicle emissions, I have mitigated some of those by dropping dairy and I can visit the seaside or places away from roads to lessen the effects.
The Library in Southborough has been built to the newer standards so not take air in from the road side of the building as well.
Letter; Sent to - Tunbridge Wells Times, 2 November 2022
I don't see or trust people to vote for sensible government or the BBC or the media leading them to do that. There were periods in the 1960s and under Mrs Thatcher and Mr Gorbachev that governments did reduce the threat. The Russian Government is much more nervous, understandably, hence the stronger sound words. I don't see government working and for a long time Conservative government seem very broken people compare it to the Titanic, which could have been an insurance fraud that went wrong and people did not get rescued.
Letter published; Opposition to traffic restrictions that help us is hypocritical - Tunbridge Wells Times, 26 April 2023
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Letter sent - Tunbridge Wells Times, 19 May 2023
The letter on Palestine last week. Britain is the biggest exporter of military weaponry in the world, the BBC reported a few years ago. I am sure that war in Europe or anywhere else is not conducted for a good but for profit. It was the allies after world war two who chose to turn on the Soviet Union the various peace and disarmament initiates should have been followed through with rather than set up NATO against that great allie of the war. Ben Wallace boasted of UK having three to one superiority in weaponry over Russia, which is true, but in addition USA makes the superiority of x17 before the recent war in Europe started. The population produced by the military is more than many of the biggest countries except the USA, these are the factors that matter rather than also trading weapons with Russia as the BBC also reported a few years ago.
On Palestine, In 1948 one of my uncles was seconded from his Scottish regiment to serve in the Palestine mounted police to protect the Palestinians, from the Israelis. But now some of those in the Labour Party who remind us of that duty of care promises to the indigenous population's get expelled instead. Makes the Labour Party sound like a poor copy of the Conservative Party when they have historically run government well.
To the Times of Tunbridge Wells - sent 20-07-2023
To the Ethical Consumer - sent 29-08-2023
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The article's on savings and pension savings recently.
When I purchased my first annuities, insurances, unit trust based savings and pension savings, you were advised by a rep. for a friendly, mutual society, or co-op and they advised you well but you would not know where money was invested. By the end of the 1980s you did not know what you were getting after you answered the questions, an independant financiall adviser asked and I am sure I did not always get the saving I had asked for. You could be advised to switch in which case the adviser would earn commission, twice if it was a bad switch followed by a good switch in which case a good company would compensate you for the bad advise there independant adviser gave.
The first ethical investment I could find Ethical European fund which Equitable Life sold me in about 1990, which is now with HSBC.
I had a pension investment with index linked charges which I quickly observed was what it was when I observed the charge increased on its anniversary and I cancelled payment to it. I had asked at the time about the index linked charges and the question was not answered twice by the company's independant adviser. That pension savings went down from £600 in 1988 to £500 a decade ago but has grow well with the co-op subsequently now Royal London. But to make the switch co-op advised me to write a letter saying I was not taking advise and I understood the risk. I had not known I could do that earlier.
So now my pensions saving are maturing the pension savings rates are low, but the annuity rates are high. So I tried to find an annuity provider who has a good policy on not investing in military, nuclear and some other ethical things. Many said they could offer none of those things because an annuity is insurance but on the otherhand it is 100% safe consequently there is no greater risk for me in combine all my funds ether.
I asked, Scottish Widows, Canadian Life, L&G, some others and Royal London who run the best telephone office, gave me the best rates but did not know the ethic of the companies they represent. Aviva gave me a statement which said, although they don't have a dedicated ESG policy, all their investments are inline with their sustainability policies. Aviva are ranked third in ShareActions' "Points of no return 2023" report.
So keep asking things do change. I wish the worlds arms and war industry were reduced, it is 4th place below the biggest polluter countrys, India, China or USA. My RPI linked annuity with Aviva may be at a lower rate than if I had picked another consequently.
To; The Times of Tunbridge Wells - printed 20-10-2023 - Bicycle
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It is nice to talk about these things, so I probably will still go to the event, which includes Victorian bikes and reproduction bikes of that age as well as bikes like mine that are three quarters through its designed life, under guarantee still and are going well with modest maintenance.
An Engineers Perspective: October 2018 (andrew-lohmann.me.uk)
To; The Times of Tunbridge Wells - printed 08-11-2023 - Tickets Best Tech
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