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. 

Capel

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.”

SOUTHBOROUGH AND HIGH BROOMS MAY 2021
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
    CON LIBDEM LAB ALLIANCE INDEP
3 Benenden & Cranbrook Dawlings     Warne  
    Holden*        
2 Brenchley & Horsmonden March*        
    McDermott        
2 Broadwater Cobbold LOST Hall WON      
    Woodward        
1 Capel Mackonochie LOST Patterson WON      
3 Culverden Scott Rands      
      Rutland*      
1 Frittenden & Sissinghurst Fairweather        
2 Goudhurst & Lamberhurst Hall        
    Noakes LOST     Knight WON  
3 Hawkhurst & Sandhurst Bland        
    Palmer*        
    Thomson        
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  
    Bruneau        
    White NEW        
3 Pembury Barrington-King     Hayward  
    Reilly        
    Roberts NEW        
2 Rusthall Podbury (retd) Funnell Britcher WON    
3 Sherwood Backhouse   Pound    
    Williams        
    Goodship NEW        
3 Southborough +HB     Everitt    
        Hill*    
        Lewis    
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      
      Lidstone*      
      Morton      
48 Total Seats CON LIBDEM LAB ALLIANCE INDEP
  *INDICATES RE-ELECTED IN EXISTING SEAT 24 13 5 5 1

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