Sunday, 15 September 2013

Launch of Speakers' Corner; a new style policy discussion group in Tunbridge Wells

Congratulations and thanks to Cllr Nicholas Rogers, Deputy Chairman (Campaigning and Political) of Tunbridge Wells Association, for re-launching the Association's political discussion group. 

The new arrangements replace the old style "group discussions" which attracted a loyal group of attendees, but the format of which was far from contemporary or welcoming to a younger generation of activists. The new "Speakers' Corner" will meet monthly (with a break for Christmas and over the summer) and each will have an invited guest speaker to round-up the discussion and answer questions on their area of policy expertise.  The group has moved out of its old home in the committee room at the local Conservative Club, and will instead meet in various locations around the constituency, thus encouraging new local attendees. Another change is the introduction of a small charge to attend (usually just £5). The idea of this isn't to make a profit, but to offset organisational and promotional costs.

Congratulations to Nick Rogers for getting this off the ground and arranging the speakers. 
A new approach to political discussion

I am pleased to announce the launch of a new series of events, Tunbridge Wells Speakers’ Corner, to replace the political discussion group. Speakers’ Corner brings together a fascinating range of external speakers with an exciting array of venues across the constituency.

Speakers’ Corner will enable members to discuss the issues of the day with some of our brightest political minds. As the name suggests, the events are intended to be a celebration of free speech and bold ideas.

I will chair the discussions and look forward to hearing from as many members as possible. A small charge will be levied to cover the costs of organising each event.

The event schedule for 2013 is as follows:

Friday 25th October: Steve Baker MP
Member of Parliament for Wycombe since 2010, Steve Baker has rapidly established himself as one of the most free-thinking Conservative MPs. Since entering Parliament he has campaigned against bail-outs for the financial sector and against the construction of High Speed Two.

Venue: Upstairs at Sankey’s, Mount Ephraim
Time: 7pm
Cost: £5 per person. A cash bar is available.

Friday 8th November: Greg Clark MP
Come along and hear Greg’s take on current affairs at both local and national levels and enjoy a drink or two with us afterwards.

Venue: Function room at The Imperial, London Road, Southborough
Time: 7pm
Cost: £5 per person. A cash bar is available.

Christmas Special - Friday 6th December: Councillor JP Floru
JP is one of the Conservative Party’s most dedicated campaigners for free markets. A City of Westminster councillor, former European Parliamentary candidate and the author of two books on the importance of free enterprise, JP lists fighting the nanny state as a hobby and is a tireless promoter of small government and low taxes.

Join us for a Christmas Special at La Fiamma, a new local restaurant that has been rated by customers as one of the best in Tunbridge Wells and featured in The Guardian as one of the top 8 pizza restaurants in the country. Owner Simon Shrager will lay on a delicious Italian buffet.

Venue: Downstairs at La Fiamma, Mount Ephraim.
Time: 7pm
Cost: £15 per person including food. A cash bar is available.

We have arranged another three events for next year, details of which will be released in due course.

Tickets for all events are strictly limited and will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

Please respond to this email letting me know which evenings you would like to attend and send a cheque payable to TWCA for the total cost of your tickets to TWCA, Freepost MA 487, 91 High Street, West Malling, ME19 6NA. Please write ‘Speakers’ Corner’ on the reverse of the cheque.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible for what will be a series of fascinating evenings.

Kind regards,

Nicholas Rogers
Deputy Chairman Political


  1. Voice from the South West15 September 2013 at 10:45

    Good idea and well done, hope it works well. If this was rolled out across the country the only thing I would be cautious about is that my old Association in the south west would probably struggle to attract the same calibre of speakers as you've got. In my experience it does seem that a lot of MPs/speakers are reluctant to travel outside of London and the South East...

    1. Good point, Voice from South West. We are fortunate in West Kent to be 40 minutes from Westminster and also to have many high profile local MPs representing constituencies within a short drive. However, the speakers do not need to be MPs, in fact often a non-Parliamentarian speaker can be less daunting for people who wish to contribute to the discussion. We have also invited local councillors, business people, charity and third sector leaders, who are often more free to speak out than MPs who are constrained by the Whip.