Having promised my new PA for some months that I would take her into my constituency and show her around, yesterday I finally managed to get around to keeping that promise.
We met in Tunbridge Wells at 9am, and I showed her around Pembury, stopping to admire the new Football Pavilion and new classroom block at the Primary School. It confirmed to me that Pembury is really very well served by amenities. The new children's playground at the recreation ground, pavilion and football pitches, new classrooms, an excellent village hall, plenty of elderly care facilities, a large supermarket at the end of the village, great pubs and restaurants.
Before leaving Pembury we stopped to admire the new and imposing Cornford House residential home, before stopping at Pepenbury for a coffee in the sunshine, being impressively served by one or two of the learning disabled residents.
Moving on to Sherwood, we visited the Primary School, saw the new Little Forest Children's Centre, the changing room block used so effectively as a base by the Community of Oak Road Estate, then drove round to the new TN2 Community Centre. It was great to see the centre so well used - pre-school toddlers playing so happily alongside a busy library with story time in progress, a well-attended community cafe and downstairs the "Fred Club" - activities and outings for young adults with learning disabilities. It was also good to see the resurfacing work to Greggs Wood Road had begun!
In St James, there's much to do; litter, graffiti, general parking and traffic issues. Pavements and road surfaces leave much to be desired, but meetings have been set and the pressure will be on Kent Highways to deliver. St Barnabas Church, cheek by jowl with the school, have moved mountains to be able to offer good pre-school nursery facilities, and the take-up by local children has been astonishing. The newly re-elected Borough Councillor will need to impress with action after the promises made at local elections.
But throughout the day, I was struck by the sense of community. Local people improving their surroundings and facilities by pushing and cajoling local decision makers. To see all three wards - each with their own character - in one visit was as useful to me as I hope it was to my colleague. It was a fascinating insight into a large part of Tunbridge Wells.