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All the reaction from the Tunbridge Wells election

by William Mata

All the reaction from the Tunbridge Wells election

The borough council election was a ‘referendum on the Civic Complex which the Conservative Party lost, according to Tunbridge Wells Labour.

The party won one seat but said the fact 57 per cent of voters had backed parties other than the Tories across the borough was ‘sign of opposition’ to the £90million development.

Hugo Pound, Chair of Tunbridge Wells Constituency Labour Party, said: “This election was the referendum the Conservatives never wanted.

“The results are more conclusive than the EU referendum as 57 per cent of voters backed parties that were opposed to the Civic Complex and theatre.

“Labour will continue to oppose the plan and work for the real priorities that continue to worry people in the borough: Genuinely affordable housing; better roads, public transport, parking and a revival of our towns and villages.”

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat Cllr Ben Chapelard, the council’s Opposition Leader, said: “We are very pleased we have got an excellent councillor elected in Mark Ellis, he is pro-business.

In Broadwater we came from 95 votes in 2014 to 471 [to miss out by eight votes].”

Bob Atwood, Chairman of Tunbridge Wells Alliance, said: “Our aim is not only to continue fighting the unaffordable theatre project, but also to press for major improvements in the planning and processes.

“We want to ensure there is joined-up thinking and the public are more involved.

“We also aim to put up more candidates for the next elections in May 2019, and will be continuing to lobby, persuade and promote our ideas.”

Cllr Tracy Moore, Conservative, said: “We still have a significant majority in the council. I am sorry two excellent Conservative councillors were not re-elected, as both were strong community advocates.

“Tunbridge Wells Alliance contested seven seats and succeeded in only one, Park ward, in which the civic development is meant to be located. This is understandably a highly emotive proposal and the election result is partly a consequence of that. But I also think the lesson learned is we must redouble our efforts to engage with the community. 

“The Sunday Times recently published its Best Places to Live list which notes culture as one of the attractive factors.

“In 1921 the community was against the council buying the land that is now Calverley Grounds.

The council purchased the land for £10,000 and created a municipal park, because they believed it was in the best interests of the town.

"I don’t think anyone would argue it was the wrong thing to do.”