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Coalition to run Tunbridge Wells council to be agreed after Conservatives lose power


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Cross-party talks at the weekend are set to settle the future running of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

After the elections earlier this month, the Conservatives who had been running the town as a minority administration, lost a further eight seats causing the council leader Cllr Tom Dawlings to step down.

Cllr Ben Chapelard will be the new council leader
Cllr Ben Chapelard will be the new council leader

The new administration will be appointed at a meeting of the full council next Wednesday, May 25, when the Lib Dem group's Cllr Ben Chapelard is expected to become the next council leader.

Talks on Sunday lasted for three-and-a-half hours between the Lib Dems – now the largest group on the council but without an overall majority – the Tunbridge Wells Alliance, the Labour Group and one of the Independent councillors, Cllr Rodney Atkins, agreed to work together.

Cllr Nick Pope, deputy group leader of the Tunbridge Wells Alliance, today told KentOnline: "It was a very productive meeting; we found ourselves already broadly on the same page."

The groups hammered out agreed policies to pursue and will share cabinet posts between them.

Cllr Pope added: "There are some minor details to hammer out, but everything is pretty much in place."

The Lib Dems have 16 seats, Conservatives 13, the Tunbridge Wells Alliance nine, Labour seven and there are three Independents.

With 48 seats over all, 25 is the magic number to give a majority to any party.

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