The way residents in Tonbridge are charged for local Tonbridge services from the Borough Council will be changing from this April.

When the Borough was formed in 1974, no successor town council was put in place – unlike Sevenoaks. The Borough Council has dealt with facilities in Tonbridge and charged for them across the whole Borough.

The rest of our Borough Council is covered by Parish Councils who run their own open spaces, play areas, sports pitches, cemeteries, closed churchyards, allotments and so on. A Parish Council tax is charged to cover the costs. The parishes felt they were paying twice – once for their areas AND a contribution to the Tonbridge “parish type” costs. To deal with this “double rating” complaint, payments were agreed to support the parishes, which in the current year was about £400,000.

Due to the Conservative government removing ALL grants to our Borough they have looked around for another set of cuts and have decided to remove the payments to Parish Councils. All the parishes now have to increase their Council taxes and/or find savings to make up for the shortfall.

In Tonbridge, the Special Expenses charge will be made of about and extra £40 to cover the Towns’ “parish expenses” at band D. It will be shown as a separate new item on the council tax bill.

With this local tax being levied on Tonbridge, it raises the question as to whether, like the rest of the Borough, we should have our own local Town Council. This would not only run our local facilities but be consulted on all planning applications and other decisions made by the Borough and County Councils that affects our town. Back in 1974, it was said that Town was “too big” but the rules have changed. Many other towns in Ken now have town councils, most recently at Folkestone and Westgate on Sea (Margate). In Rochester, local people have started the procedure to get one

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