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Trolls target Tunbridge Wells councillor Tracy Moore over Calverley Grounds plans

A councillor who supports the construction of a new council building in a historic park has spoken of her emotional battle against trolls and the affect of personal attacks on her family.

Cllr Tracy Moore claims campaigners against plans for a civic centre in Calverley Grounds in Tunbridge Wells are bullying and intimidating her and her children.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council plans to replace the 985-seat Assembly Hall with a 1,200-seat theatre and build a new civic suite, council offices and underground parking.

Cllr Moore, who is the council member in charge of economic development, said she is contacted by trolls on social media on a daily basis.

She said: "I won't give in to bullying and I will continue to do the right thing for the residents of Tunbridge Wells.

"I am always open to meeting people in person to discuss disagreements but there are people who are cowards, just hiding behind a keyboard.

Cllr Tracy Moore
Cllr Tracy Moore

"Democracy is threatened when people are scared to share their views because of intimidation and bullying.

"I believe we want more compassionate, empathetic and kind people as councillors, who will act in the best interests for residents.

"I would like to see a more diverse council that really reflects Tunbridge Wells but this toxic environment is putting people off."

A poster featuring Cllr Tracy Moore in Calverley Grounds says "chop this tree down"
A poster featuring Cllr Tracy Moore in Calverley Grounds says "chop this tree down"

Cllr Moore, who is originally from Pennsylvania, USA, added despite the intimidation she will stand in the election next year so she can continue to "do what's right".

She said: "Whether people agree with me or not, people deserve to be treated with a level of decency.

"I love Tunbridge Wells - this is the place I've lived in the longest in my life and two of my three children were born here.

"I just want to make this place better and I wouldn't support something if I didn't think it would improve people's lives."

A tree poster shared on Facebook by Friends of Calverley Grounds
A tree poster shared on Facebook by Friends of Calverley Grounds

Cllr Tracy Moore, who has lived in Tunbridge Wells for 15 years, claims her three children have also been caught up in the bullying as they have been teased and tomented at school for their mother being a "tree killer".

Posters with Cllr Moore's face on were attached to trees in Calverley Park, each with a speech bubble stating 'chop this tree down'.

She said: "This has given me an example to teach my children about not giving into bullying.

"It's not been easy for them as their friends have had a go at them about it. This is just one of the reasons why I wanted to speak out.

"It's also inaccurate as more trees are going to be planted than removed - 66 trees will be removed but 70 trees planted.

"But the facts get lost in a very personal attacking campaign."

Cllr Nick Pope
Cllr Nick Pope

While the culprits have not been found, Friends of Calverley Grounds and Cllr Nick Pope have shared photos of the trees on the internet.

Former chairman of the group, Cllr Pope, is the only councillor for the Tunbridge Wells Alliance (TWA), a political party set up in protest of the plans for the Civic Centre.

He admitted sharing the post may have "made it more popular" but the posters were not made by any members of the alliance.

He said: "I don't know who made the posters really, I only shared a picture of them because I thought it was interesting.

"I would like to think people criticise in a polite way online but there are people who go beyond what we would like and these are not people who are part of the TWA.

"Leading the communications for an project that's controversial, Cllr Moore is bound to be the focus residents' frustrations.

"I do not support any form of bullying, and am shocked, if true, to hear that Cllr Tracy Moore's children are being bullied at school.

"It is sometimes difficult to tred the line between a personal attack and a robust challenge."

Cllr Pope added when the civic centre plans were first announced he was on the fence but since more information "came to light" he sided with the consensus of the friends' group.

"I represent the views of the Friends of Calverly Grounds but this also mirrors my own views.

"The fact I live next to the grounds doesn't affect my decision because if the theatre was a success it would add to the value of my property so it makes no difference."

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