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Voters have choice of three in Tonbridge and Malling by-election

By Alan Smith

Voters in Trench Ward in Tonbridge will go to the polls a week on Thursday (December 8) to elect their new borough councillor.

The seat became vacant after the death of Conservative Jean Atkinson in October.

Only three candidates are contesting the election, after both the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party announced they would not be fighting the seat in order to boost the chances of the Labour candidate breaking the Tories near monopoly on the council.

Voters go to the ballot box today to choose their county councillors
Voters go to the ballot box today to choose their county councillors

Cllr Atkinson won the seat in 2007 and had held it since, but prior to that the ward had been a Labour stronghold for the previous 60 years.

Labour’s candidate is Fred Long, 57, who has lived in Tonbridge for 18 years, currently in Barden Park Road. He served in the RAF from 1978 to 1984; then worked in the Civil Service before taking early retirement.

He has been heavily involved in local community projects: he is chairman of the Angel Community Garden; he was co-organiser of Tonbridge Calling, the one-day music festival; and he was founder member of Tonbridge Refugee Action. Last year he won the Kent County Individual Volunteer of the Year Award.

Labour's Fred Long
Labour's Fred Long

The Conservative candidate is Georgina Thomas, who was born, raised and educated in the ward and still lives there in Northwood Road. She is 29. She runs her own business selling “onesies” - often branded in support of local charities.

She also points to her community credentials, having raised £2,000 to help the RBL with the Tonbridge Memorial Gardens and she has also run a project with KCC to discourage young people from drugs, smoking and alcohol abuse.

The Conservatives' Georgina Thomas
The Conservatives' Georgina Thomas

The third candidate is David Allen, 69, the author of The Sophisticated Alcoholic, who has worked previously as a musician, engineer, manager, trainer, IT consultant and therapist.

He lives in Medway Wharf Road.

Ukip's David Allen
Ukip's David Allen

In the 2015 local election, the Conservatives took 48 of the 54 council seats. Four are held by Liberal Democrats and two by independents.

Trench Ward has 3,600 voters.

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