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Still no news on who is running Tunbridge Wells council

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Electors in Tunbridge Wells still have no certainty yet as to the future direction of their council.

Defeat at the polls last Thursday saw the Conservatives lose eight seats, and their minority administration, but it seems the Liberal Democrats who emerged as the biggest party when the counting was over are taking their time over finding coalition partners.

Cllr Nicholas Pope, TWA deputy group leader
Cllr Nicholas Pope, TWA deputy group leader

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.

Cllr Nick Pope, the chairman and deputy group leader of the Tunbridge Wells Alliance said: "We were very pleased with our results in the election.

"Our focus will always be on local issues and services, free from the constraints and control of a national party

whose eyes will always be on the next general election."

But Cllr Pope said that although his party stood ready to discuss the terms of a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, no talks have yet been held.

Lib Dem leader Ben Chapelard
Lib Dem leader Ben Chapelard

He said: "One week on from the election and discussions have yet to start. Both the Alliance and Labour groups have been pressing the Lib Dems to start talks as soon as possible, but they have said this Sunday is the earliest date they can meet."

Cllr Pope said he was confident that an agreement could be reached, and although a two-party pact between the Alliance and Lib Dems would give a majority, he said he would like to see Labour and an Independent included too.

He said: "We are all limited in number and in availability. It is about picking the right person for the right job from whichever party they come."

Lib Dem leader Ben Chapelard could not be reached for comment.

The parties have until the next meeting of Tunbridge Wells council at 10am on Wednesday, May 25, to sort things out.

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