The Labour candidate in the by-election for the vacant seat on Southborough Town Council has said he regrets the Conservative Party’s decision to put up a by-election candidate who doesn’t live in the Town Council area.
In a statement on Saturday to Southborough News, Labour’s Alain Lewis (pictured below) said: ” I genuinely believe that town councillors should live and pay taxes in the town they represent.” Mr Lewis also criticised the Conservative’s Southborough Hub development scheme.
The by-election takes place on Thursday 7th September in a seat left vacant by the unexpected resignation of the Conservative, Glenn Lester, (below) who had been one of the key supporters of the Southborough Hub scheme, which is due to offer a new library, medical centre and community hall – all funded by housing development on the Ridgewaye playing fields. The Hub replaces the now demolished Royal Victoria Hall Theatre.
The election leaflet for the Conservative candidate, Judith Symes, referred to a “big investment” underway to build the community Hub. It continued: “This brings with it new opportunities for Southborough and High Brooms.”
The Conservative majority on the Town Council is not at risk, but the vote will inevitably be seen as a test of how well the people of Southborough and High Brooms think the Hub plans have been managed by the Conservative Party.
Three candidates are standing. They are:
Allen LEAR of the Liberal Democrats of 8 Ruscombe Close, Southborough TN4 0SG
Alain LEWIS of the Labour Party of 25 Holden Park Road, Southborough TN4 0ER
Judith SYMES of the Conservatives who lives at 94 Upper Grosvenor Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 2EU
Southborough News asked all 3 candidates for statements by Saturday lunchtime but only Labour had responded by the deadline with a statement.
Mr Lewis’s statement continues:
“I have lived in Southborough with my wife for over 12 years and during this time have shown my commitment to the area by serving as a town and borough councillor. I have fought to preserve our heritage and green spaces and to develop our town centre by involving local residents who will be using and paying for its facilities.”
Mr Lewis also discussed the Hub:
” I have opposed the way that the Hub has been developed by a small group of Conservative councillors acting in secret, refusing to reveal the financial details of the project, and happy to use a part of Ridgewaye fields for building flats. If elected, together with my Labour colleagues, I will work for a council that is open in the way it deals with the public and that ensures our town remains a place that future generations will love to live in.”
The current mix of councillors in the Southborough and High Brooms Town Council area is Conservative 11, Labour 5, Liberal Democrat 1, Vacant 1.
Judith Symes election leaflet also states: “I am an experienced politician. I have a background in senior management, with many years working across sectors, with people from all “walks of life””.
There was some comment in the past week on the Southborough Forum Facebook page about the fact that the Conservative candidate lived just outside High Brooms. The Chairman of the Southborough Society, Michael Howes, said he had been asked to stand by the Conservatives but declined.
When asked why he declined to stand, Mr Howes stated on Facebook: “Too busy and why should I give my time to be shot down by outspoken idiots?”