Published: 09:15, 15 May 2019
| Updated: 09:19, 15 May 2019
The position of the Conservative group on Maidstone Borough Council has been strengthened ahead of the vital vote this Saturday to determine the new council leader.
Former Conservative group leader Chris Garland had left the group in January over a disagreement with the current leader John Perry over his approach to the council 's budget proposals and his approach to the borough's judicial review over its dispute with KCC on highways issues - Cllr Garland supported the review.
Cllr Garland sat as an Independent for the past four months, but he has this week rejoined the Conservatives.
Cllr Perry said: "Chris has always been a Conservative at heart and we welcome him back
"I am personally delighted.
"We all hold the basic tenants of Conservatism, but we are a group of free spirits and I rarely seek to impose a party whip."
The recruitment of Cllr Garland boosts the Conservative numbers on the 55-seat council to 25.
It will give the Conservatives more chance to secure seats on the council's various committees which are allocated in proportion to the size of the party, but does not ensure that Cllr Perry will be the new council leader.
The Conservatives were the largest group last year, but Cllr Martin Cox (Lib Dem) was appointed leader when he was supported not only by his own party, but also by Labour and Independent members.
The new make up of the council is Conservatives 25, Lib Dem 20. Labour 4, Independent 4, Independent Maidstone 2.
Members will elect the new leader for the coming year at a meeting at Maidstone Town Hall this Saturday which starts at 9.30am.