Southborough’s Big Vote on Thursday

Southborough residents only get a chance to vote for their representatives on the Town Council once every four years and that big day is coming soon – Thursday 2nd May.

The Conservatives currently have a big majority on the Town Council and they have used their time in power to press ahead with plans to create the “Southborough Hub”, which is due to combine a new hall, library, medical centre and clubhouse for local footballers.

The Hub is likely to be a key issue in voters’ minds. The Conservatives had promised the Hub would be ready by now but repeated delays mean that – while the building of new housing to finance the project is well advanced – the planned new public facilities (see below for plans) have yet to start construction.

Nov18 Hub Air

In May 2017, bulldozers moved in to clear the site by demolishing the Local Heritage Asset, the Royal Victoria Hall, that had been part of Southborough’s history for a 117 years (see picture below from “Castles on the Ground” blog).

RVH demolish

All the issues surrounding the Hub and the Royal Victoria Hall have been extensively covered previously on this blog (see archive). There are 31 candidates for the 18 Town Council seats, which are all unpaid roles.

There are three different voting areas. The area covered by North Ward is shown below.


In the Southborough North Ward, 7 councillors will be elected from these 10 candidates, with voting taking place at St Thomas’s Church Hall in Pennington Road:

STC – North Ward Home Address Party
BULLION Alan Tun Wells TN2 Liberal Dem
ELLIOTT David Sir David’s Park Conservative
HARRIS Phil Park House Gdns Conservative
JAMIL Nasir Tun Wells Conservative
KINGHORN Ian West Park Ave Conservative
KINGHORN Olwyn West Park Ave Conservative
POILE Trevor Fernhurst Cres Liberal Dem
PRANCE Jacqueline Harland Way Liberal Dem
UDDIN Mo Tun Wells Boro Conservative
WEATHERLY Lynne Tun Wells Conservative

Meanwhile, in West Ward, it is considerably more competitive with 11 candidates chasing 5 seats, with voting at the Community Centre in Crundwell Rd:

STC – West Ward Home Address Party
BAILEY Matthew Tun Wells Conservative
BIRD Alexis Bright Ridge Liberal Dem
BLACKWELL Nicholas Pinewood Gdns Labour
CLAY Martin Gt Bounds Drive Labour
ELDRIDGE Jon Tun Wells Boro Conservative
EVANS Peter Holden Park Rd Labour
MARKWELL Leah Carville Ave Conservative
MARKWELL Toby Carville Ave Conservative
MUNN Graham Holden Park Rd Labour
OAKFORD Peter Pennington Rd Conservative
WHARTON Mandy Broomhill Pk Rd Labour

Finally, in Southborough East and High Brooms Ward, there are 10 candidates for 6 council seats with voting at St Matthew’s Church.

STC – East & High Brooms Home Address Party
BACKHOUSE Bob Tun Wells TN2 Conservative
CAMP Christopher Tun Wells TN2 Conservative
FARTHING Steven Tun Wells Boro Conservative
FRANCIS Dariel Elizabeth High Brooms Rd Labour
HILL Dianne Colebrook Rd Labour
LANE Yvonne South View Rd Labour
LEWIS Alain Holden Park Rd Labour
LEWIS-GREY Alexander Tun Wells Conservative
PULLER Max Tun Wells Boro Conservative
SCOTT David Tun Wells Conservative

The candidates’ address has been given by exact road if the candidate lives in Southborough. Some further details are on the Borough Council website.

Meanwhile, the Tunbridge Wells Borough elections are also taking place, with two council seats in play in Southborough.  Each area is represented by more than one councillor under a system of rolling votes for the Borough Council.

The main issue in the Borough election is the Conservative scheme to spend £ 90 million on building a new council run theatre and Tunbridge Wells Town Hall on part of Calverley Grounds (artist’s impression of plans below).  Previous bogs have also extensively covered this issue (see archive).

image e crop

Voting for the Borough is in two constituencies, with each electing one councillor.  In Southborough North, four parties are standing with the Conservatives having been victorious in 3 votes in the past four years, although the margin has varied.  This time the candidates are:

Southborough North Home Address
BLACKWELL Nicholas Pinewood Gdns Labour
ELLIOTT David St David’s Park Conservative
LUKACS Stephen Tun Wells TN2 UKIP
POILE Trevor Fernhurst Cres Liberal Dem

Four years ago, David Elliott won the seat convincingly for the Conservatives with 58% of the vote (1,343 votes), with Labour taking 16% (372), Liberal Democrats 15% (357) and UKIP 11% (256 votes).

But just four months later – in a by-election in September 2015, it was much closer in Southborough North, with just 50 votes in it, as the Conservatives took 44% (483 votes), Liberal Democrats 39% (434 votes) and UKIP 17% (188 votes).

Last year, Joe Simmons was returned for the Conservatives with 51% (614 votes), with Lib Dems on 29% (354 votes) and Labour on 20% (247 votes). There was no UKIP candidate.

The second Southborough area is a combination of the other two Town Council Wards and so is named Southborough and High Brooms. This seat has recently been won by both Labour and Conservative Parties.  Here are the candidates this time:

Southborough and High Brooms
BIRD Alexis Bright Ridge Liberal Dem
EVERITT Luke Tun Wells TN2 Labour
MARSHALL Christine Gordon Rd TN4 UKIP
PULLER Max Tun Wells Conservative

Four years ago, Zulhash Uddin won the seat for the Conservatives with 38% of the vote (1,289 votes), with Labour winning 36% (1,235), UKIP 16% (546) and Liberal Democrats 10% (325).  But last year, Labour won Southborough and High Brooms with 62% (1,094 votes), Conservatives 26% (455) and Lib Dems on 12% (211 votes).

Voting on Thursday will take place between 7am and 10pm.

Emmetts Garden Provides Springtime Inspiration for Gardeners

The National Trust’s Emmetts Garden is only 20 minutes drive from Southborough and its exotic shrubs are currently displaying magnificent springtime colours to energise local gardeners.

In contrast to this weekend’s sadly overcast weather, a fortnight ago (see below) the sun was shining brightly on Emmetts Garden, which is one of the highest spots in Kent.


There is a huge collection of plants – large and small – in six acres of land.


P1150055.JPGEmmetts Garden is an amazingly quiet, peaceful spot – well away from motorway noise and also usually free from the rumble of aeroplanes heading for Gatwick.  It is around 200 metres above sea level (600 feet), so offers glorious panoramic views over unblemished countryside.


A banker, Frederic Lubbock, was responsible for the original planting out of the gardens in 1893-95, while the shrub garden was added ten years later.  Frederic’s elder brother was the ant expert and author Sir John Lubbock.

Emmetts Crop

After Frederic Lubbock’s death in 1927,  the estate was acquired by an American geologist Charles Watson Boise, who handed the estate (minus the house) to the National Trust in 1964.

P1150058Emmetts Garden is free for National Trust members but costs £12 for adult tickets and £30 for a family ticket. It opens every day from 10am to 5pm from March to December.  There is also a small cafe and a large picnic area and childrens’ play area.  You can walk through woodland to Chartwell.

On fine weekend days it does get busy and had to close briefly at around 2pm on the sunny Sunday a fortnight ago. It is quieter in the late afternoon. Here’s how to get there on the non-A21 picturesque route:

Emmetts Map.jpg

It takes 25 minutes by car on my country road route above, compared with 15 minutes if you follow the dreary “google map/satnav” A21 Sevenoaks By-pass route.  But the scenic route is cheaper on fuel! Just put “no motorways” in google maps to avoid the A21.



P1150054.JPGThe rock gardens and pond (above) are fenced in to prevent rabbits digging up the plants. The bluebells and rose garden will be attractions for the coming months, while the Trust also runs Easter egg hunts and – in August – holds open air theatre productions.