Conservatives Lose Overall Majority on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

For the first time in more than twenty years, the Conservative Party has no overall majority on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, as counting today revealed opposition parties gained 5 seats in Thursday’s local elections.

Years of drama over the abandoned theatre project and controversy over a massive housebuilding plan for Capel has worn down the Conservative’s normally rock solid majority in the Borough.

The Conservatives now have exactly half of the council seats, which is 24 of the 48 members elected.

The Liberal Democrats won the seat of Capel, defeating the leading Conservative, Carol Mackonochie.

Save Capel

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) has put forward plans for thousands of houses in the Capel area, filling in much farmland between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood in order to meet central government housing targets.

The victorious Liberal Democrat in the Capel seat, Hugh Patterson (pictured below) won 75% of the votes and said on twitter that it was an “overwhelming victory on a huge turnout. TWBC – this a rejection of the Local Plan by the community most affected!”

TW Lib Dem Hugh

The turnout in Capel was 53%, which is the highest in the Borough emphasising the strength of feeling on the housing issue. The full result for Capel is below:

Hugh PattersonLibDem71775%
Carol MackonochieCon18720%
Christine SpicerGreen172%
Wendy DayLab162%
Christopher HoareUKIP162%

Below is some of the farmland near Five Oak Green that opponents in the Save Capel campaign are trying to preserve. 


There were 3 Liberal Democrat gains in all (Capel, Broadwater and Pantiles/St Mark’s), while Labour gained Rusthall and the local group, Tunbridge Wells Alliance Party, also gained one seat.

The Alliance defeated the Conservative councillor Barry Noakes, who had represented the Goudhurst & Lamberhurst seat for the past 13 years.  The victory was by just 28 votes.

But the Alliance candidate in the Speldhurst & Bidborough seat, the well-known restaurant owner Matthew Sankey, lost to the Conservatives, amid an even spread of votes to rival opposition parties. The full Speldhurst & Bidborough result (with two seats up for grabs) is below:

Harry AllenCon91222%
David StanyerCon86021%
Matthew SankeyAlliance62615%
Anne BackshellAlliance48612%
Clare  HimmerGreen3118%
Jeremy  StirlingLibDem2907%
Martin  BriceLibDem2466%
Millie GrayLabour1764%
Anne MuskerLabour1744%

The Borough Council opposition now consists of 13 Liberal Democrats, 5 Labour, 5 Alliance and one Independent Councillor.

Meanwhile in Southborough, there was no Borough Council voting in the north and west of the town but in the seat of Southborough and High Brooms, the incumbent Labour candidate Dianne Hill (below) triumphed with 52 % of the vote – the same share as the last election five years ago.

Dianne Hill now

Dianne Hill told Southborough News: “I love this community and I live here. I am really overwhelmed and so pleased and proud to be representing Southborough and High Brooms.”

Dianne HillLab103352%
Nasir JamilCon57629%
Aqab Mehmood MalikLibDem1628%
Anthony HoskinGreen1508%
Christine MarshallUKIP482%

After some confusion on PA news service about the totals, here is confirmation of the current councillors and their names:

48 RESULTS 2021 24 13 5 5 1
3 Benenden & Cranbrook Dawlings     Warne  
2 Brenchley & Horsmonden March*        
2 Broadwater Cobbold LOST Hall WON      
1 Capel Mackonochie LOST Patterson WON      
3 Culverden Scott Rands      
1 Frittenden & Sissinghurst Fairweather        
2 Goudhurst & Lamberhurst Hall        
    Noakes LOST     Knight WON  
3 Hawkhurst & Sandhurst Bland        
2 Paddock Wood East Hamilton       Atkins
2 Paddock Wood West Bailey        
    Thomas (retd)        
    Hills NEW        
3 Pantiles & St Marks Scholes Hickey      
    Horwood (died) Fitzsimmons WON      
3 Park Atwood     Pope  
    White NEW        
3 Pembury Barrington-King     Hayward  
    Roberts NEW        
2 Rusthall Podbury (retd) Funnell Britcher WON    
3 Sherwood Backhouse   Pound    
    Goodship NEW        
3 Southborough +HB     Everitt    
2 Southborough North Simmons Poile      
3 Speldhurst & Bidborough Stanyer*     Willis  
    Soyke (resigned)        
    Allen NEW        
2 St James’   Chapelard*      
      Wormington WON     Neave-LEFT
3 St John’s   Ellis      

Conservative Peter Oakford Wins His County Council Seat by Just 1%

The Kent County Council seat of Tunbridge Wells North – which includes Southborough – has been won by the Conservatives, with Peter Oakford narrowly holding his seat by just 80 votes, after many voters switched from the Liberal Democrats to Labour.

The Conservative lead over Labour was 35% to 34%, with an increased turnout from four years ago.

The Green party candidate, Anthony Hoskin, added to his tally from the last election, taking 11% or 611 votes.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have held their position in control of Kent County Council as a whole, with all 6 of the Tunbridge Wells area seats staying Conservative.

Cllr Oakford (below) was voted off the Borough Council two years ago but is still a powerful figure in the County Council as Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Corporate and Traded Services.

Peter-Oakford crop

The full results for Tunbridge Wells North (including Southborough) which had a 42 % turnout were:

MAY 2021
Peter OakfordCon2,04835%
Mike TappLab1,96834%
Aqab Mehmood MalikLibDem1,05718%
Anthony HoskinGreen61111%
Christine MarshallUKIP1272%
Total votes5,811

The results in 2017 were:

MAY 2017
Peter OakfordCon2,01742%
Martin BettsLab1,24826%
Marguerita MortonLibDem1,17225%
William O’SheaUKIP2154%
Anthony HoskinGreen1283%
Total votes4,780

The Borough Council results will be announced tomorrow with the Conservative overall majority in Tunbridge Wells in the balance.

Financial Boost for West Kent’s New Community FM Radio Station

The planned new West Kent Community Radio is today celebrating after being awarded almost £9,000 in National Lottery funding to buy the FM radio transmitters it needs to be able to launch its service later this year.

West Kent Community Radio evolved from Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells, an established hospital radio service which has been broadcasting radio programmes to local hospitals for the past 60 years.


The charity, which is staffed by more than 55 volunteers ranging in age from 22 to 77, was awarded an FM licence by OFCOM in March 2020 to provide a community radio service for Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Southborough and surrounding areas.

At present, West Kent Radio provides a 24/7 service which can be heard in our local hospitals, online and via Smart speaker and has continued to provide programmes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with many presenters operating from their homes to keep the station on air.


The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will enable the service to be expanded and broadcast on FM across West Kent.

Broadcasting as West Kent Radio, the station’s output will include a variety of music from across the decades, regular local news bulletins and information on local sporting and social events.


It will host discussion programmes on topics of local interest to allow local people to engage with members of the County Council, town councils and residents and will provide a platform for local charities and support organisations to promote their services and enable local musicians to showcase their talents in live shows.

The charitable aims of West Kent Community Radio include the prevention or relief of sickness and the promotion of good personal mental and physical health, and broadcasting health education messages and advice in its programmes and hosting discussion programmes with health experts will help it to achieve these aims.


The station will continue to broadcast request programmes for patients in local hospitals as it has done for the past 60 years and aims to expand the requests service into care homes and other healthcare locations.

Chris Manser, Trustee of West Kent Community Radio said: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to press on with our plans to launch our service on FM and by providing music, news, entertainment, sport and good advice we hope to enrich the lives of our listeners in West Kent.”