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Voters go to the polls in three ward by-elections in Tonbridge and Malling council


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Voters in three wards of Tonbridge and Malling council will be asked to go to the polls this month to elect their new borough councillor.

Three vacancies have arisen - two due to the resignations of the sitting councillors, and the third due to the dismissal of the councillor for non-attendance at council meetings.

The council is certain to retain a Conservative majority
The council is certain to retain a Conservative majority

All three seats were previously held by Conservatives.

Millie Langridge, who had represented Kings Hill, has been dismissed from the council for failing to attend any meetings in six months.

Mrs Langridge had been elected in 2019 with 770 votes, 119 more than her nearest rival, the Independent Sarah Barker.

Cllr Lee O'Toole has resigned his seat at the West Malling and Leybourne Ward for personal reasons, while Cllr Karen King (Con) has resigned her seat in Castle Ward, Tonbridge, after moving away from the area.

Only the Conservatives are contesting all three seats in the elections, which will be held on Thursday, December 9.

Anna Cope, the Green candidate for Castle Ward
Anna Cope, the Green candidate for Castle Ward
Johurul Islam, the Conservative candidate for Castle Ward
Johurul Islam, the Conservative candidate for Castle Ward
Julian Wilson, Labour candidate for Castle Ward
Julian Wilson, Labour candidate for Castle Ward

In Castle Ward they will be opposed by a Green Party and a Labour Party candidate, but no Lib Dem.

In West Malling and Leybourne, they will be opposed by the Greens, Labour and Lib Dems.

While in Kings Hill, they face a challenge from a Lib Dem and an Independent candidate.

The Conservatives hold a comfortable majority on the council, with the Tories on 36 seats, the Lib Dems on eight, The Independent Alliance Kent and the Greens both on three, and Labour on one.

So even if the Conservatives lost all three seats, it would make no difference to the overall control of the council.

Dan Harman, the Conservative candidate for Kings Hill
Dan Harman, the Conservative candidate for Kings Hill
Louis Westlake, the Independent candidate for Kings Hill
Louis Westlake, the Independent candidate for Kings Hill
Raja Zahidi, Lib Dem candidate for Kings Hill
Raja Zahidi, Lib Dem candidate for Kings Hill

Conservative Dan Harman grew up in West Malling, but has made Kings Hill his home after returning to the country having lived and worked in New Zealand.

He is campaigning to protect the countryside and for medical facilities on Kings Hill.

Conservative David Thompson is a West Malling parish councillor, where he helped co-ordinate the town's response to the Covid pandemic.

Conservative Johurul Islam works at Royal Mail, but helps run a number of restaurants with his family, including Turmeric Gold in Tudeley, and Cinnamon Square in Hildenborough. He's seeking a crackdown on graffiti in the area.

Independent Louis Westlake is the youngest candidate. He is 19. The former Judd School pupil is now a first-year law and philosophy student at the New College of Humanities in London. He lives in Kings Hall and is standing on an anti-housing development ticket, in particular he opposes development at Broadwater Farm.

Jordan Mahoney, the Green candidate for West Malling and Leybourne
Jordan Mahoney, the Green candidate for West Malling and Leybourne
David Thompson, the Conservative candidate for West Malling and Leybourne
David Thompson, the Conservative candidate for West Malling and Leybourne
Paul Boxall, the Lib Dem candidate for West Malling and Leysdown
Paul Boxall, the Lib Dem candidate for West Malling and Leysdown

Green candidate Anna Cope has lived in Castle Ward for the past 10 years. She is an English teacher at a Tonbridge secondary school and said she aimed to listen to local voices and amplify people's concerns on issues such as traffic, bin collections, littering and personal safety, and of course the environment.

Green candidate Jordan Mahoney has lived in West Malling and Leybourne for the past three and a half years. He is a member of the West Malling Speedwatch and said he wants to see the Green Belt extended to cover all of the Leybourne and Malling area. He is particularly opposed to the Bellway development near West Malling Abbey and the Forty Acres proposal on the edge of Leybourne.

Lib Dem candidate Paul Boxall has lived in Leybourne for five years with two children at St Peter and St Paul Primary School. He has worked in theatre production and in the Middle East and currently works in London for a watch company. He wants improvements in the bin collection service, to fight against the "damaging" proposals for the 900-home Broadwater Farm development, and to fight for local school places for local school children. He said there was a need to ‘reboot’ the borough council after its disastrous bin collection contract and failure to pass a Local Plan.

Lib Dem candidate Raja Zahidi is already a Kings Hill parish councillor and has lived on the estate since 2008. She is a solicitor. She wants to stop further development at Kings Hill and save the remaining green land, and she want to see improved bus services to the area.

Labour candidate Julian Wilson wants to see the council start building its own homes again to help poorer people find affordable housing. He wants the waste service collection brought back in-house. He has lived in the ward for 24 years and is a former trade union branch secretary. As a published historian, he is keen to do see more done to preserve the town's conservation areas and heritage buildings at risk.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we were unable to make contact with the other Labour candidate, Robin Potter.

Conservative Matt Boughton will still be council leader after the vote - whatever the outcome
Conservative Matt Boughton will still be council leader after the vote - whatever the outcome

The candidates are:

Castle Ward

Anna Cope, The Green Party

Johurul Islam, Conservative

Julian Wilson, Labour Party

Kings Hill

Dan Harman, Conservative

Louis Westlake, Independent

Raja Zahidi, Liberal Democrat

West Malling and Leybourne

Paul Boxall, Liberal Democrat

Jordan Mahoney, Green Party

Robin Potter, Labour

David Thompson, Conservative

Polling is between the between the hours of 7am and 10pm.

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