Published: 20:37, 07 May 2021
| Updated: 20:39, 07 May 2021
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to reinvigorate a Kent town centre after a famous election victory in the Tory heartland amid the pandemic.
Cheers echoed Swanley Leisure Centre's sports hall when Richard Streatfeild of the Lib Dems was announced the surprising winner of a county council seat.
Celebrating the victory, the former British Army soldier has vowed to promote more green travel and resolve the "crisis" of special needs education in Kent.
For decades the Conservatives have held sweeping majorities in the Garden of England, with Sevenoaks one of their most reliable constituencies of support.
Mr Streatfeild said he was "grateful" that residents had put their trust in him.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "We have not won in the town of Sevenoaks for a long time and this is a chance to change for the better.
"We want to meet the challenges of housing, climate crisis and the pandemic."
"I hope the next four years will be action packed..."
It comes on a day when hundreds of council elections have taken place across England, Scotland and Wales, with final votes counts revealed during the day.
Six seats were up for grabs in Sevenoaks during Kent County Council (KCC) Covid-secure elections this week. Voters wore masks and had their own pens.
Volunteers spent hours counting votes in White Oak Leisure Centre behind protective screens in a large sports hall earlier today.
The Conservative party won five out of six seats in Sevenoaks, including KCC leader Roger Gough (Con) and former chairman Cllr David Brazier (Con), 74.
Cllr Gough said: "It was a good strong result, so I am very pleased and grateful to residents in Sevenoaks North and Darent Valley."
His counterpart, Cllr Brazier, expressed his relief about the result after a newly resurgent Green Party saw his support drop from 78% in 2017 to 60% in 2021.
Cllr Brazier said: "I hope the next four years will be action packed."
Meanwhile, Cllr Streatfeild emerged a narrow victor over former KCC cabinet member Margaret Crabtree (Con), who was previously a Sevenoaks mayor.
He won the seat with a margin of less than 200 votes. He added: "We knew it was going to be close, but we worked hard during and before the campaign."