Published: 00:00, 11 September 2015
| Updated: 00:05, 11 September 2015
The Conservatives have won the Fant Ward by-election.
Matt Boughton secured the seat for Tories after the vacancy was created by the sudden death of Cllr Alistair Black in July.
The result was certainly no foregone conclusion with the election hotly contested by Rosaline Janko, landlady of The Walnut Tree pub in Tonbridge Road, standing for the Lib Dems, by Stuart Jeffery of Buckland Road standing for the Green Party and by Keith Adkinson of Chamberlain Avenue for the Labour party, all of whom thought they were in with a chance.
The intervention of Ukip’s Colin Taylor from Glebe Lane, Barming, was another wild card, while the outcome was made more difficult to predict by the intercession of Mike Hogg from Tovil, a former Tory councillor for South Ward who lost his seat at the last election and who this time decided to stand as an Independent against the official Tory candidate.
But in the end it was Mr Boughton, an assistant to Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, who won by a majority of 53.
Mr Boughton from Downswood is a politics graduate from Sussex University.
The 22-year-old former Oakwood Park Grammar School pupil, who still lives with his parents, will now be the youngest councillor sitting in the council chamber, although he is not the youngest ever to be elected - that record is still held by Cllr Stephen Paine who was five months younger than Cllr Boughton when he first joined the council.
Around 20 candidates, agents and supporters attended the count at Fant Community Hall on Thursday night, with the result declared by the returning officer Alison Broom at 11.15pm, just 75 minutes after the poll closed.
Cllr Boughton said: “It’s a honour to be elected and I’m incredibly grateful to the people of Fant.
“We lost a good friend in Alistair Black and I have some very big shoes to fill.”
Asked whether at 22, he had the experience to solve the town‘s problems, he said: “Look, age is just a number. What we have is people with a considerable mix of experiences on the council and I hope I can add my own experience to the equation for the better governance of the people of Fant.”
The result leaves the political make-up of the council unchanged with 25 Conservatives, 20 Lib Dems, six Independents, two Labour, and two Ukip.
Matt Boughton (Con) 477 elected
Rosaline Janko (Lib Dem) 424
Keith Adkinson (Lab) 352
Stuart Jeffery (Green) 249
Colin Taylor (Ukip) 180
Michael Hogg (Ind) 75
The turnout was 26%
The electorate was 6,784.