Ide Hill Toilets: The Views of the Ide Hill Society

Ide Hill Toilets: The Views of the Ide Hill Society

Dear Member or former Member

The Committee of the Ide Hill Society recently attended a Zoom meeting led by Don Baker with other Ide Hill Ward Parish Councillors Polly Furse and David Miller attending. They explained the background to the consultation/survey on the Ide Hill public toilets and sought the support of our membership for the keeping this facility fully open.

The projected annual cost of cleaning and maintenance is £7500, which amounts to roughly £5 per resident of the Parish Council. In the absence of any explanation we can only assume that Sundridge Ward councillors feel that it is not in their residents’ interest to maintain this commitment or that the money is better spent elsewhere.

It is the unanimous and strongly held view of your Committee that the toilets should remain fully open. Without this facility the cafe will be unable to re-open after lockdown unless [and even then until] alternative facilities can be provided. The shop and its amazing team of volunteers is at the heart of our community and widely admired. The cafe is an integral part and without it the shop is scarcely profitable and its long term viability therefore uncertain.

The toilets are also a heavily used facility for cyclists, walkers and other visitors, many from afar, who will not suddenly disappear if the café closes, as we have seen in lockdown. Closure of the facilities would therefore have unmentionable implications for decency and public health.

It is of course your decision on how, or whether, to respond to this consultation but our Committee will be voting for keeping the toilets fully open and adding a comment that this should be on a permanent basis.
We strongly encourage you to do so too.

Paul Meredith

Chair of the Ide Hill Society


Sevenoaks Town Council rescues the Stag Theatre and Cinema – for a second time

Sevenoaks Town Council rescues the Stag Theatre and Cinema – for a second time

At the Sevenoaks Town Council Meeting held on 29th June 2020 Town Councillors unanimously voted to provide the Stag Theatre and Cinema with a financial lifeline to enable it to re-open and progress with its Recovery Plan from the impact of COVID 19.

The Mayor, Cllr Nicholas Busvine OBE said “It was a tough two hour meeting – as anyone watching on You Tube will have seen – but I am very glad to say that your Town Council was able to reach a unanimous consensus on a strategy to Save Our Stag. However, this still relies on ongoing participation from the local community.”

In 2008 Sevenoaks Town Council took the bold step to take over the management of Stag using a different business model following its second bankruptcy by other management companies.

The Town Council’s original aims were set out in its 2008 Business Plan and remain the same today:

  1. Assisting the sustainability of the local economy of the town, particularly the night-time economy and tourism economy.
  2. Retaining the valuable social and leisure facility for both performers and audiences
  3. Enabling the development of youth services both in performing arts and youth outreach services.
  4. Retaining an iconic building in the town and preserving the street scene.

An independent charity was subsequently created to operate the Stag and the Town Council supported with an annual grant of £27,000.  Town Councillors, Trustees, Staff, Volunteers, Customers and Local Businesses invested considerable time and effort to make the Stag the success it had become, a vibrant local leisure facility underwriting the local economy. Pre COVID 19 the Stag was 99% grant free and debt free.

Unfortunately, the Stag as per many leisure facilities finances are now critical due to the impact of COVID 19 and social distancing restrictions.

Town Councillors initially considered financially assisting the Stag at a Meeting on 8th June 2020.  At the meeting Town Councillors stated that they wanted to see evidence of public support for the facility both in communications and fundraising.

Three weeks later Town Councillors were delighted to receive 1,600+ emails of support for the Stag and offers of practical help.  In addition, that the public had raised £18,000 to date via the Save Our Stag campaign.

Sevenoaks Town Councillors unanimously voted for the following:

Sevenoaks Town Council is committed to keeping the Stag open and operating for the benefit of the residents of Sevenoaks.  Therefore, Sevenoaks Town Council proposed to help the Stag achieve funding in the current fiscal year, in line with the Stag’s Recovery Plan.  It is the noted that the Stag’s Recovery Plan will develop as circumstances change and will need to demonstrate how the Stag will recover to a viable operation, as follows:

1.      Sevenoaks Town Council will initially grant the Stag £65,000 in line with the request in the Recovery Plan, to cover the first three months of the Stag reopening.

2.      The Stag launches a fundraising appeal, with Sevenoaks Town Council agreeing to match fund up to £60,000 achieved by the Stag.

3.      Sevenoaks Town Council commits to revisit the Stag’s financial situation on a quarterly basis, offering further grants if needed at the same time being mindful that the Town Council’s revenue reserves should not fall to levels which would put at risk its own services to the Town.

4.      A Working Group of 4 Town Councillors and appropriate Town Council and Stag officers to regularly review the financial position of the Stag and its Recovery Plan.

5.      A Working Group of 4 Town Councillors and appropriate Town Council and Stag officers to review alternative governance arrangements to those currently operated.

Members of the public can donate via the Stag’s website

Due to COVID 19 Sevenoaks Town Council has had to hold meetings virtually rather than within the Council Chamber.  For the first time Sevenoaks Town Council streamed its meeting on YouTube which can be viewed at or searching for Sevenoaks Town Council on YouTube.  Over 100 people viewed the meeting live, by the following morning views had risen to 400+.

Linda Larter MBE

Chief Executive / Town Clerk

Press Release issued on 30th June 2020 by Sevenoaks Town Council

Stag Play Your Part - flyer