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Elections: Boycott is 'gesture politics'

Cllr Len Horwood (Con), whose seat will not be contested
Cllr Len Horwood (Con), whose seat will not be contested

Two political parties claim they are boycotting a ward in the upcoming elections because residents have been asked to vote there too often.

On May 1, the Pantiles and St Mark's ward at Tunbridge Wells council will go to the polls for the third time in a year.

The Liberal Democrats and the UK Independence Party have not stood candidates in the ward, which has three councillors, claiming public money was wasted by the previous votes.

But Tories have accused the two parties of "gesture politics".

Last May one of the ward's three seats was won by Tory candidate Gillian Barber-Hughes but she failed to sign acceptance papers in time. A by-election was held and won by Cllr Glen Hall (Con), who will face election again in 2011.

This May, Cllr Len Horwood's (Con) seat in the ward would have been contested. Because it is a no-contest, he will remain a councillor for another four years.

Victor Webb, UKIP’s spokesman, said “We are boycotting this ward for one election only to draw attention to the disgraceful behaviour by the Tories here in recent years.”

Lib Dem spokesman Alan Bullion said public money could be spent on better things than organising elections.

"Local council tax-payers are being asked to stump up still more cash when their town centre lavatories and arts facilities are under threat of closure due to savage Tory cuts," he said.

Cllr Roy Bullock (Con), the leader of the council, said: “This is just gesture politics. I think the real reason is that they did not have sufficient candidates for every single ward election this year.”

Both the Lib Dems and UKIP said they had sufficient party members to field candidates in the ward.

Elections will be held on May 1 in the following Tunbridge Wells council wards: Benenden and Cranbrook, Brenchley and Horsmonden, Broadwater, Capel, Culverden, Goudhurst and Lamberhurst, Hawkhurst and Sandhurst, St John's, Park, Pembury, Rusthall, Sherwood, Southborough and High Brooms, Speldhurst and Bidborough, and St James'.

For more election coverage see this Friday's Kent Messenger

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