Tories keep control of Maidstone but lose a senior councillor
Tories have kept control of Maidstone council, claiming the
victory as a vindication of tough cost-cutting measures taken
during the recession.
Conservative councillors had feared that closing public toilets
in Maidstone and introducing higher parking fares would be punished
And early indications on Thursday night were that the Lib Dems
would overturn the majority of only one seat - especially when
Cllr Brian Moss (Con), the former cabinet member for leisure, was
defeated in Bridge Ward.
But the Tories ralled and ended the night with 28 councillors -
the same number they had before the election. The Lib Dems now have
23, and there are four Independents.
Independent group leader Pat Marshall lost Bearsted to the
Conservative candidate Heather Langley, while Tory David Burton
celebrated a shock victory over Lib Dem candidate Daniel Moriarty
in Park Wood. The party also gained in Shepway South, where
Independent candidate Sheena Williams was defeated by Adrian
The highest profile casualty of the night was Brian Moss - the
deputy leader of the Conservatives and cabinet member for leisure -
who lost Bridge to David Pickett (Lib Dem).
Mr Moss said: "It means I get my life back. Being a cabinet
member is a full time job. I am supposed to be retired and I can
now spend a lot more time with my wife. We will be off to Australia
in a short while. But I am disappointed to lose."
The Tories also lost East ward to Jane Naghi (Lib Dem) and South
ward to Derek Mortimer (Lib Dem).
Cllr Chris Garland (Con) said he was delighted to be able to
take control of the council for another year.
He described it as a vindication of his party's moves to cut
costs, and said the win was a mandate to push through the
controversial £4m regeneration of Maidstone High Street which had
been opposed by the Lib Dems during the campaign.
Cllr Garland said: "Maintaining control of the council shows
that the Maidsotne public agreed with what we have done over the
past two years - if they hadn't we would have lost.
"We have offered them a vision for the future, of prosperity and
"We will now begin a programme of regeneration and crack on with
the High Street. We will get Maidstone moving."
He added: "There will be a change to the cabinet. It is very sad
to lose Brian, who has been a wise counsel to me for the last two
years. He will be a sad loss to the Conservative Group and the
council as a whole."
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