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Greens, Lib Dems and Labour meet today in attempt to decide who will run Maidstone Council

No-one yet knows who will be running one of Kent’s largest councils for the next four years.

Voters went to the polls to elect Maidstone Borough Council last Thursday, but the results following the count on Friday were inconclusive.

Green party leader Stuart Jeffery
Green party leader Stuart Jeffery

The Conservatives had the largest number of seats with 13. The Lib Dems were second with 12 and the Greens third with 10. Labour were on six.

However, Stuart Jeffery of the Green Party has formed a Green Independent Alliance Group - as he had before the election - gaining the support of four councillors elected as Independents, bringing his total to 14 and making his group the largest party.

The four are Tom and Janetta Sams, Kathy Cox and Vanessa Jones.

Another Independent, Anne Dawes, is newly elected in Boughton Monchelsea and Chart Sutton Ward, and her stance is unknown.

The convention is that the leader of the group with most seats - in this case Stuart Jeffery - usually becomes the council leader, but there is no guarantee, and Cllr Jeffery admitted this morning that: “There is no way of telling how it will fall out.”

Lib Dem leader Cllr Clive English
Lib Dem leader Cllr Clive English

There is a meeting today between two representatives from each of the Lib Dem, Labour and Green parties, to see if a deal can be achieved.

But one back-bench councillor observed: “Between them, they would have 32 of the 49 seats - a comfortable majority.

“But the problem is who would be leader?

“All three party leaders - Clive English, Maureen Cleator and Stuart Jeffery - are strong characters, and I can’t see any combination where any two of them would be happy to play second fiddle to the third.”

An alternative scenario would be a Tory/Lib Dem pact, with either Clive English or Conservative Claudine Russell as leader.

Labour leader Cllr Maureen Cleator
Labour leader Cllr Maureen Cleator

Between them, they would have 25 seats - the slimmest of majorities, but they could also usually rely on the support of at least one of the Independents.

A Lib Dem party member observed: “I hope that doesn’t happen. Going into a coalition with the Tories could hurt us in the long run as it did before (a reference to the national coalition between David Cameron and Nick Clegg.)”

Meanwhile, other problems have been easier to solve.

Martin Cox had been deputy mayor last year and had been due to become Mayor this year.

But, having been a councillor since 2011, he lost his seat last week.

Martin Cox: his hopes of becoming mayor have been dashed
Martin Cox: his hopes of becoming mayor have been dashed

Mr Cox, who had once been leader of the Lib Dem group, but more recently sat as an Independent, had been hoping to see his name join that of his grandfather Percy Barden on the boards in the Town Hall recording the names of the town’s mayors. Mr Barden was mayor in 1966.

It means that Cllr John Perry (Con), who had been due to become the deputy mayor this year will now step straight into the role of mayor.

Cllr Martin Round will replace him as deputy mayor.

Election to the mayor or deputy posts are not political appointments but are determined solely by councillors’ length of service on the council.

Meanwhile, for some, being on the council continues to be a family business.

Husband and wife team Tom and Janetta Sams
Husband and wife team Tom and Janetta Sams

Husband and wife team Tom and Janetta Sams were both re-elected as Independent councillors for Harrietsham, Lenham and North Downs ward, while Dan and Joanna Wilkinson were also re-elected, although they represent different wards: Park Wood and Shepway respectively.

Scroll down for the full election results.

Lib Dem Cllr Dave Naghi has now been joined by his son Mark, who was elected to Grove Green and Vinters Park.

Cllr Naghi junior was asked who he thought would be running the council in a few weeks’ time.

He said: “Clive English is the one with the experience.

Father and son: Mark and Dave Naghi
Father and son: Mark and Dave Naghi

“But, I’m so new, I can’t really speculate.”

He said: “At the end of the day, it’s all about doing what’s best for Maidstone, whatever the political colour.”

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