Residents in Southborough will go to the polls on Thursday 4th May to vote for their Kent County Councillor, with opposition parties attempting to reduce the Conservative vote by capitalising on local concern about new house building plans and the decline of the town’s shops and facilities.
In the last week, the last cafe in Southborough, Cafe Bliss, said it would close by July. Martin Betts (pictured below) is standing for Labour and his election leaflet describes what he calls “two years of chaos” in Southborough.
Mr Betts argues that the Conservatives should not be demolishing the town’s heritage asset, the Royal Victoria Hall, and does not welcome the Hub development in its current form. Mr Betts says residents have been “kept in the dark” and warns of the consequences of 65 homes being built on Southborough’s Ridgewaye playing fields, which he fears will lead to more traffic congestion.
By contrast, the Conservative candidate, Peter Oakford (pictured below) has been the pivotal figure in championing the Southborough Hub scheme, as he is a leading figure on Kent County Council, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Southborough Town Council, which have all agreed to merge their land holdings to take the plans forward.
In Mr Oakford’s election leaflet he argues: “The Hub will create a vibrant and all-inclusive facility at the heart of our town. The main facilities will be a new medical centre, fully flexible theatre/hall, modern library and community space.”
The Liberal Democrat candidate, Marguerita Morton (pictured below) in a recent newsletter argued: “The planned Southborough Hub presents a key opportunity to provide high quality local services and benefit the whole community… I want to ensure … that it is a well designed, beautiful and modern building for the community fit for the 21st century”.
Ms Morton continued: “if there was any excess monies from the sale of land, they should put it into a community fund for the benefit of the people of Southborough and that they could save money by not building such an ambitious town centre building thereby making it less important to build 69 new homes behind the hub”.
The Hub scheme (pictured below) will take at least three years to complete and cost several million pounds, paid for by the sale of a section of the Ridgewaye playing fields:
The existing Southborough library building will be demolished. A plan of the new buildings is shown below:
No election leaflets have been delivered to Southborough News’s address from the UKIP or Green candidates for this election. Voting on Thursday 4 May 2017 is between 7am and 10pm. The full list of candidates in the County Council elections this year is:
|MORTON, Marguerita||Lib Dem|
The table below shows the levels of support for the parties in the last County Council election in 2013, when UKIP was polling strongly at a national level and came second.
|KCC Vote in 2013: TUN WELLS North|
|Trevor Poile||Lib Dem||666||17%|