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Ward boundary changes disputed by Tonbridge and Malling council

Tonbridge and Malling council does not seem to be getting things all its own way when it comes to ward boundary changes.

The borough is currently undergoing scrutiny from the Local Government Boundary Commission which is looking to both reduce the number of councillors from the current 54 to 44, and to equalise as far as possible the number of voters each member represents, while retaining some form of community cohesion.

There will be 10 fewer councillors in the council chamber from 2023
There will be 10 fewer councillors in the council chamber from 2023

The Commission has come up with its initial draft plan, which sets out plans for 19 wards with a mixture of one, two or three councillors.

At a special full council meeting called to discuss the draft, the council decided it was happy with the suggestions for five wards, because they were the same as the council itself had proposed.

The council was "satisfied" with the altered proposals for 10 other wards and said it would also "reluctantly accept" proposals for two other wards that differed from its own ideas.

However, the council has written back to the Commission to take issue with the suggestions for two wards: Judd and Cage Green in the centre of Tonbridge.

It said: "The warding patterns in south and central Tonbridge (particularly in relation to Judd Ward) do not represent coherent identities and the loss of the High Street as a natural barrier between wards should be reconsidered."

Cllrs Mark Davis, left, and Mark Hood
Cllrs Mark Davis, left, and Mark Hood

It said: "It would make greater sense for Cage Green to be extended into Central Tonbridge, east of the High Street, to create a ward with a stronger identity."

Judd is currently represented by two Green councillors, Mark Hood and April Clark.

Cage Green is represented by two Conservative councillors, Mark Davis and Nicolas Heslop.

The Boundary Commission will make its final decision in March.

Any change will be implemented at the May 2023 election.

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