Published: 11:41, 26 October 2018
| Updated: 12:52, 26 October 2018
A by-election sparked by a councillor's shock resignation has been narrowly won by the Conservative Party.
Tory Nathan Iliffe received 247 votes in the battle for the Kennington ward, edging out Ashford Independent candidate Ian Anderson by just 20 votes.
Labour's Dylan Jones drew 85 votes, with Peter Morgan of the Green Party receiving 36.
Two ballot papers were rejected and the turnout was 32.8%.
The by-election was sparked when Cllr Phil Sims (Con) resigned earlier this year.
Mr Sims, who lives in Ball Lane, resigned in September after the Large Burton plans progressed.
The Tory had pledged to fight major development in his ward, but said stepping down was “only honourable thing to do”.
Developer Mark Quinn, of Quinn Estates, is behind the 750-home Large Burton scheme, which he hopes to build on fields off Willesborough Road in Kennington.
A planning application is yet to be submitted but is expected soon.
Mr Iliffe, 25, believes his youth and listening abilities will allow him to best represent the views of every ward resident.
He promises to fight any development that does not improve the wellbeing of neighbours.
Mr Iliffe, who lives on the Orchard Heights estate, works at the Brakes food company on the Eureka Business Park.
Before the by-election, he said he recognised the inevitability of the Large Burton estate’s construction as part of the council’s Local Plan, but promised to ensure that it is “done in the right way” with infrastructure and green spaces at the forefront of the proposal.
Describing the main issues in the ward, he said: “I think you won’t be surprised to hear that development is one of the biggest issues that a lot of residents are concerned about and justifiably so.
“The key is balance, people need somewhere to live and the town’s population is growing.
“If you have a family with two children then those children will need somewhere, but we need to protect current residents.
'While I’ve not sat on a council before, I don’t think that’s a bad thing...' - Nathan Iliffe
“Nobody wants to buy a property with views of the Wye Downs to have them replaced with houses two years later.
“But nobody will be able to stop it - there will be something built there - because legally there has to be.”
Mr Iliffe, who has lived the borough for eight years and in Kent all his life, is hoping his age will enable him to better promote the views of Ashford’s younger residents.
He said: “I’m proud of Kent and of Ashford, and while it sometimes gets a bit of stick, I honestly think that if you look at any other borough in the county, there aren’t many that are better to live and work in.
“I’ve got quite a bit of experience with canvassing and working with local councillors.
“While I’ve not sat on a council before, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
“If you look at the borough and Kennington itself, there’s a mix of ages, and I think that the council needs to represent the views of young people as well as older people.
“There are some people on the council who come with decades of experience which is fantastic, but these views need to be merged with younger ones, such as living in Ashford and buying a house here.
“I come from the age group where I can see these topics from a younger person’s perspective.”