The man who has masterminded the radical new Hub development in Southborough, Peter Oakford, was reelected for another four year term by 42% of voters in the “Tunbridge Wells North” constituency in yesterday’s Kent County Council election.
The opposition to the Conservatives was split between Labour with 26% and the Liberal Democrat with 25%. The UKIP vote collapsed in line with national trends.
Mr Oakford added 644 votes compared with his support in the same poll in 2013. Labour added 576 votes and the Lib Dems added 506 supporters. Opposition parties pointed out the majority of voters (58 %) did not support the Conservative candidate.
Mr Oakford is pictured above on the left of the picture during the campaign, with our Westminster Conservative MP Greg Clark in centre right.
Turnout was a disappointing 35%. In a comment on Facebook, a local Conservative colleague and Southborough Town Councillor, Ian Kinghorn, called the result: “a ringing endorsement of Conservative policies.”
The Labour candidate, Martin Betts, (below) told Southborough News: “I think there was a lot of anger about the demolition of the Royal Victoria Hall among our supporters in Southborough and High Brooms. We put a huge amount of work into leafleting. It was always going to be tough to win and I think it is a positive result for us given the national trend for Labour.”
The Liberal Democrat candidate, Marguerita Morton, told Southborough News: “Of course I am disappointed by the result. However, if you add the votes cast for Lib Dems and Labour, both of us were against the Hub in our different ways, you would have a majority for not building the excessively expensive hub with the early demolition of the town hall and RVH.”
Ms Morton continued: “I was extremely shocked to see the business plan did not contain figures for future income or expenditure, for that matter. So, we may have the demolition of a town hall and cherished theatre building without a replacement. That is unacceptable.”
Ms Morton (pictured above) concluded: “Many people, if not most, do want to “get on” with the development – not least our businesses, because the dilapidated look of Southborough town centre puts off visitors. But this has to be considered alongside how the infrastructure of the town is going to cope with the extra traffic from the housing development. I fear that this is not the end of the story but the beginning of a long drawn out fight between the governors and the governed under Tory rule”.
|TUN WELLS NORTH||2017||2017||Compared with 2013|
|Votes||%||% change||Votes chg|
|P Oakford||Con||2,017||42||+7||up 644|
|M Betts||Lab||1,248||26||+9||up 576|
|M Morton||LibDem||1,172||25||+8||up 506|
|W O’Shea||UKIP||215||4||-20||dn 743|
|A Hoskin||Green||128||3||-4||dn 134|
|Total Votes||4,780||up 849|